Owner Walks Free Despite Four Dying In Disco Fire

Published on 9th September 2015 by Stickboy BKK

tiger disco fire

Piya Isaramalai is the CEO of Sara Entertainment Co Ltd who own the Tiger Disco just off Soi Bangla in Phuket’s busting tourist hub Patong.

On July 20th 2015 he was handed a two year suspended sentence and both him and Sara Entertainment fined a combined 600,000 baht. During the next two years he will need to check in with his parole officer a grand total of six times. The pair were also ordered to pay 5.6m baht in compensation.

Not too bad considering four people were burnt alive and 11 others seriously injured when the Tiger Disco went up in flames just before 4am on August 17, 2012.

tiger disco fire

Piya Isaramalai and Sara Entertainment were found guilty on charges of causing death by negligence, causing physical and mental injury and trading after hours.

Phuket Prosecutor Patthira Phumisutthaphol said Piya was sentenced to three years in prison, however, seeing as he had no previous criminal history this was reduced to a two year suspended sentence.

The maximum penalty for causing death through negligence is 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to 20,000 baht.

I wonder how the family of 24-year old Brit Michael Tzouvanni will feel when they read the punishment handed down? Or the loved ones of Frenchman Emmanuel Becard who was just 30 at the time. Or the families of the two Thais, Duangporn Budklor, 34, and 36-year-old Nipaphat Sudtasorn who died in the inferno that night?

Both parties were formally charged on July 10, 2013 under Section 291 of the Thai Criminal Code: Causing Death through Negligence together with charges of causing physical and mental injury and trading after hours. The trial began only five months ago on April 23rd. The slow wheels of justice, eh?

But what justice? Well, it seems to me that isn’t important when you read what Tiger Group lawyer and vice president Thamrongsak Boonrak told the Phuket News after the family of one of the foreign victims refused to accept court-ordered compensation.

“They have asked for more money, so they have to file the case to court again,” Thamrongsak said, adding, “We have lost over 137 million baht in this case during the past two years”

“We have to support all of our workers in 47 bars and take care of so many things. I hope this case will come to an end very soon or otherwise the Tiger Group will come to an end first. And if we come to an end, can you imagine that how many people will be out of jobs in Phuket?”

I don’t need to say a word about Thamrongsak’s statement as you read it yourself and I’m sure all of you are thinking the exact same as myself so I will move on to one or two other points.

tiger disco fire

The fire broke out just before 4am despite the official closing time being 2am. The reasoning given for being open two hours beyond the license was management didn’t want to turf patrons out into the heavy storm that was battering Patong that night. The very same storm that was blamed for the fire.

But the fire had nothing to do with the rain that was shown in a damning report by the Building Society Inspectors & Officers Association and the Association of Siamese Architects, which cited failure by the nightclub owners to adhere to numerous fire safety regulations.

Tiger Disco had improperly placed fire extinguishers, faulty emergency exit ladders and the use of a highly-flammable foam for wall and ceiling decorations.

The forensics report identified the cause of the fire as an electrical short circuit under the ceiling at the front of the building,

Maj Gen Chonasit Wattanavrangkul, who was Provincial Police Commander at the time, confirmed with Patong Police: “The spark set alight the ceiling and the wall, both of which were coated with highly flammable EPS foam”.

This is all just another shining example how little life is valued here in Thailand.

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