The head of Thailand’s state railway has been sacked by the country’s military government after a public furore over the rape and killing of a 13-year-old girl in her berth on an overnight train.
The junta, which took power in a May 22 coup, broadcast a decree over television on Thursday, ordering State Railway of Thailand Governor Prapas Chongsa-nguan to leave his post in order to make railway operations more “orderly”.
He had earlier declined to resign in response to calls for him to show responsibility.
Police arrested a railway worker for the rape and killing of the girl travelling on Saturday night from the south to Bangkok.
Police said he had confessed to the crime and to tossing her body from the car, which was not found until Tuesday morning.
The crime sparked a public outcry calling for capital punishment for rape.
The railway chief’s ouster has a political element as well.
The junta has been purging senior civil servants and political appointees of the former elected government in a bid to strengthen its hand over the country’s administration before elections it has planned for around October 2015.
Prapas was closely linked to the former ruling party of ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government’s plan for an expensive high-speed rail network, which
was scrapped after the army takeover.
By firing Prapas, the junta, which has been waging an extensive public relations campaign to paint itself as promoters of social good and enemies of crime and corruption, can at the same time claim credit for responding to the considerable public clamour over the girl’s killing.