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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Ekkayuth’s body found, three arrested; Supercar probe gains speed; Bangkok by-election race heats up; Brick-thrower caught on camera

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Ekkayuth’s body found, three arrested; Supercar probe gains speed; Bangkok by-election race heats up; Brick-thrower caught on camera | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Ekkayuth’s body found; theft motive disputed
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Mystery still surrounds the murder of businessman and government critic Ekkayuth Anchanbutr, whose body was found in the southern province of Phatthalung yesterday.

Questions regarding a motive for the murder remain unanswered, as observers and his lawyer say they’re unconvinced by the alleged perpetrator’s claim that he murdered Ekkayuth for his Bt5 million.

Ekkayuth’s naked body was found buried in an orchard in Phatthalung’s Muang district yesterday afternoon. His 25-year-old chauffeur Santiparb Pengduang, who has allegedly admitted to killing his employer for Bt5 million, and suspected accomplices Chavalit Wunchum, 23, and Thiwakorn Kuathong, 19, led police to the location where they had allegedly buried the body.

There were marks on the victim’s neck showing he had been strangled, according to police. There were no traces of assault on other parts of his body.

The body, found about half a metre below ground level, had begun to decompose and police said the death occurred four to five days ago. Ekkayuth’s family members identified the body, and it was sent to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Bangkok for formal identification.

The digging up of the body was carried out in the presence of several reporters and photographers, as well as hundreds of local residents.

Police, meanwhile, would focus their investigation on theft as the main motive although they would also pay attention to other possible motives, according to Metropolitan Police commander Pol Lt-General Kamronwit Thoopkrajang. He said investigators would interrogate the three suspects further as they gave inconsistent details regarding certain matters, such as how they dealt with his clothes after he was killed. Some suspects said the clothes were thrown away and others said they were burnt, according to Kamronwit.

Police are still hunting for a fourth suspect, Santiparb’s friend who was still on the run, Kamronwit said.

A police source from the South said that the investigation showed that Ekkayuth was strangled to death.

The Criminal Court yesterday endorsed arrest warrants against four people allegedly involved in the murder – Santiparb, Chavalit, Thiwakorn and Prakarn Songkhao, 24. They were charged with robbery and murder, illegal detention and concealment of a body.

Ekkayuth’s lawyer Suwat Apaipak said yesterday he believed Santiparb was only a pawn in a plot to murder Ekkayuth. He said it was found that Santiparb had worked for a senior Army officer known for his mafia background.

The lawyer said he was not convinced money was the real motive for the murder.

“I think the real motive should have something to do with politics,” he said.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said he also was not convinced that money was the real motive. He called on the police to deal with the case in a transparent and careful manner.

Shortly before his death, Ekkayuth posted on his Facebook page allegations of tax evasion and money laundering against certain politicians. He was also a staunch critic of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and the current government.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday “there was nothing complex” about the case, adding that money was the real motive for the murder.

Meanwhile, Santiparb’s father, Sergeant Itthipol Pengduang, allegedly confessed to his supervisors that his son gave him a sum of money taken from Ekkayuth and that he had put the money into the care of a relative in Songkhla, according to Army deputy spokesman Colonel Winthai Suwari.

He said Itthipol was now in the military’s custody.

DSI gets a lead in supercar case
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has received information from a transport firm owner about who might own the luxury cars that were damaged in a trailer-truck fire in Nakhon Ratchashima last month.

Hence, DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said, the probe should be completed in the next two weeks.

The DSI and other related agencies were also scheduled to meet with 10 super-car dealers later yesterday to inspect vehicles that are believed to have been wrongly registered as locally re-assembled, Tarit said.

Tarit said the DSI was interrogating the owner of the trailer company, A-ngoon Jeungsaengmanee, and trailer driver Ekkapan Wilamon, and was hence able to identify the person who had hired the trailer to transport the luxury cars. However, Tarit said the name could not be revealed as the investigation was pending.

He said that within two weeks, the DSI should be able to identify others involved. He said the investigation had initially found that JMW Motors Co, TAN Express Co and Porjai Autopart Co had sent auto-parts to Dhamma Motor Rich Co to re-assemble and register the cars.

Tarit said that the probe into 532 other wrongly registered vehicles would not interfere in this investigation, adding that DSI officials will contact the owners to present their papers on June 14.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Police Region 3 said yesterday that it was looking into other re-assembled super cars in seven provinces in the lower Northeast.

Tight race for Bangkok by-election on Sunday
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Don Muang by-election on Sundayis expected to be a neck-and-neck race between the Pheu Thai and Democrat Party candidates.

In fact, it is expected to be so tight that observers have not been able to predict the outcome, with many even saying that the opinion polls are incorrect.

On Sunday, however, we will learn whether it is the government or the opposition that will get another seat in Parliament.

The ruling-Pheu Thai Party is fielding former teen heartthrob Yuranunt Pamornmontri, while the Democrats have nominated actor Tankhun Jitt-itsara.

Tankhun previously lost to the now red-carded Pheu Thai MP Karun Hosakul by 8,000 votes in 2011. During the Bangkok gubernatorial election this year, Pheu Thai candidate Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen won 40,073 votes in the Don Muang constituency compared to Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra’s 28,092 votes.

Over the past few years, the ruling party has repeatedly won in this obviously pro-red district. So it is obvious that most observers would place their bets on Yuranunt.

But then again, Don Muang district today is different and Yuranunt has certain weakness that cannot be overlooked.

First of all, he has no political base in the district even though his house registration papers now say he hails from the area. In comparison, Tankhun has worked diligently on garnering local support, especially during the 2011 flood crisis.

Also, the fact that municipal councillors are under the Democrat banner makes one doubt the prediction of a Pheu Thai victory.

Many pollsters are also shifting their focus on Tankhun emerging as a winner, prompting Pheu Thai to boost the number of its door-to-door campaign teams from nine to 27.

Clearly, Pheu Thai has reason to be afraid, especially since its opinion polls, which have come out with accurate predictions time after time

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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