Guns, drugs and an empty casket

NAKHON SRI THAMMARAT: When a funeral goes on for several weeks and is protected by a gang of armed men, you can usually bet that it’s for someone important.

But a funeral in Thung Yai held for a fictitious money-spinning witch doctor left villagers confused when the funeral’s organizers started selling “lucky” lottery tickets.

The funeral was reported to the Nakhon Sri Thammarat Damrongtham Center, which acts as provincial ombudsman, by a citizen who complained that a house in Thung Yai District’s Tambon Ku Rae had been holding a ceremony for almost a month.

Mourners were smoking drugs and a number of thugs were carrying guns at the funeral, said the concerned citizen.

The complainant said that according to organizers, the funeral was for a Cambodian witch doctor who used to predict lottery results. The funeral organizers were selling tickets for a Malaysian lottery on the premise that good fortune was destined for the whole village.

Nakhon Sri Thammarat Vice-Governor Wichit Chatphaisit was informed of the complaint on July 16 and immediately ordered the Srivichai Task Force to coordinate with the chief administrative officer (palad) of Thung Yai District and deputy superintendent of Thung Yai District Police Station to investigate the funeral.

V/Gov Wichit said that at the house where the funeral was being held, the investigation team found the ceremony in full swing with about 50 people milling around the premises.

“There were many tough guys walking around, patrolling the proceedings, all with pistols. The officials identified themselves and asked to search the property. They found many types of guns: the pistols that the tough guys were carrying, some more guns hidden around the house and yet more hidden in a banana grove outside,” said V/Gov Wichit.

“Officials also found three safes which the owner of the house at first claimed belonged to his daughter. The officers detained the organizers and took them to Nakhon Sri Thammarat Provincial Hall to record the arrests before questioning began,” he added.

Phemsak Leuansunthon, head of the Srivichai Task Force, said that when police questioned Amphon Amnuay, 61, the owner of the residence, he acted suspiciously and gave contradictory statements. Amphon also claimed to be on good terms with the governor of Chumphon Province and the chief of staff of Army Region 4.

 Amphon stated that the funeral was being held for a Cambodian witch doctor who had died in Chumphon Hospital on July 5, said K. Phemsak. The Governor of Chumphon had conducted the funeral rites, Amphon added.

Thailand News

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