BANGKOK (AFP): A nationwide manhunt was launched today for Duongchalerm Yoobamrung, wanted for the killing of a police officer at a city nightclub on Sunday, after he apparently slipped away from both the Thai military and the police. The search for Duongchalerm, son of Thai parliamentarian Chalerm Yoobamrung, was launched after he failed to surrender to authorities today, as promised earlier this week. Military officials had earlier said they thought the wanted man was staying with his family before surrendering, but Chalerm told police today that he did not know where his son was. Deputy Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa said he had ordered the army to search for Duongchalerm. “I have ordered the military to set up a team to hunt for Duongchalerm after he failed to turn up at the police station this morning,” he said. “The military cannot just ignore this. They must help the police.” Yuthasak also warned Thai military personnel against harboring the wanted man. “Any military units that shelter Duongchalerm will be considered wrongdoers,” he said. He added that the suspect could be dismissed from the army if he fails to report for duty by November 12. Should that happen, Duongchalerm would be tried as a civilian, no longer protected by an agreement between the Interior and Defense Ministries whereby commissioned officers may be interrogated only in the presence of a Defense Ministry lawyer. Earlier this week, amid a furore over the case, which has stirred doubts about the fairness of Thailand’s justice system, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called for the abolition of the agreement, which gives military officers special privileges. Thai police said they had alerted Immigration Police and dispatched teams of investigators to search areas of the country where Duongchalerm may be hiding. “Police were deployed at a border town in the western province of Ratchaburi and in Pattaya,” Sant said. “We have deployed police to almost every area.”
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