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Chinese media, Thai police argue over handling of mansion raid in Pattaya

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Chinese media argues with Thai police over the handling of last week's luxury mansion raid. (via Facebook/ ตำรวจห้วยใหญ่)

Controversy is swirling around the police raid on the Pattaya luxury mansion last week where a Chinese National shot 2 police officers, as the man and Chinese media argue that the raid was “executed poorly”.

Senior Thai police officers claim the raid was carried out appropriately, while the Chinese man claims he panicked after being approached by suspicious men who were not clearly identified as police officers.

The Chinese media has claimed that proper procedures were not followed and a search warrant was not obtained in advance. Video footage has been circling online showing a group of plain-clothes men coming through the rear of the property, where the owner was relaxing by the pool before fleeing to lock himself in his home.

From the upstairs bedroom, he shot more than 60 rounds from a 9mm automatic pistol licensed to his Thai girlfriend. He also released tear gas on the storming police officers, and investigations later revealed that another Chinese man in the house had a concealed gun. 2 police officers were critically injured, one shot in the stomach and 1 shot in the leg, though the most recent information is that both will recover from being shot.

The deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai police says that the court issued a search warrant after reviewing the evidence from a special operations squad, so police would have prior knowledge of who might be inside and what to expect during a raid. He argues that raid procedure was followed with uniformed police officers and 4 police cars at the front of the property while police entered from the rear to stop anyone from fleeing.

The shooter in custody, a Chinese man known as Leo carrying a passport for investment haven Saint Kitts and Nevis, claims that he fired on the intruders for fear of being kidnapped or harmed with no knowledge that the people storming his property were police.

The police contradict his statement and argue that all officers had proper ID displayed during the raid and had already identified themselves to a gardener when they entered the property.

While Leo’s lawyer maintains that the search was executed without a warrant and run improperly, police maintain they had gone through proper procedures while investigating money laundering and illegal online gambling operations believed to be going on in the luxury mansion.

His lawyer claims that Leo has no involvement with any illegal business or organised crime, and is merely a businessman who made money in gold, property, Bitcoin, and is in Thailand to develop a luxury real estate market. Police argue that bulletproof vests found during the raid and the use of teargas imply more nefarious activities.

Despite conflicting stories, one failure of procedure is that no interpreter was present during the raid, a requirement for any search warrant on a foreign national as many cannot speak or read Thai, as was the case with this Chinese man.

The man has expressed remorse for shooting at police during the raid but argues that he was defending himself as, without any knowledge who the raiders were and what they were doing there, he genuinely believed that he was about to be the victim of a kidnapping. He cited a recent story of a Chinese couple that was abducted just last year, sealed in suitcases, and thrown into a river to drown.

Leo has expressed frustration at the poor conditions he was held in, with no clothes or access to bathing, and with his visa being revoked. Police say he’s being held not only on the original suspicions of money laundering and illegal online gambling, but for attempted murder, causing bodily harm to police, and the illegal use of a firearm.

Chinese media continuesto advocate on his behalf painting a negative picture of the Thai police’s handling of the raid.

SOURCE: Thai Examiner

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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