Egyptian held as police probe murder of tourists

BANGKOK, June 5 (AFP) – Thai police are questioning an Egyptian tour guide over the apparant serial killings of six foreign tourists slain soon after touching down at Bangkok airport, police said this afternoon. Chanam Said Muhamad, 35, was arrested in connection with the murder of a French tourist who disappeared nearly a year ago. And police believe they can prove he also murdered at least one other French tourist and a German, said Pol Col Weesrasak Burapakarn, commander of Bangkok’s Min Buri police station. Bodies of the tourists, most of whom were believed to have been aged under 30, were found one after the other over the past year alongside a highway linking the airport with central Bangkok. All had deep stab wounds. Pol Col Weeserak said police suspected Muhamad operated in a gang with an Egyptian and a Saudi Arabian. One of his alleged accomplices has died and the other is believed to have fled to Saudi Arabia. “Muhamad will be remanded in custody, but his Thai wife, who was also arrested, has been released after police found she had nothing to do with the murders,” he said. Consular officials and police have so far refused to divulge the identities of the murder victims. Officers are also questioning Muhamad, who has been living in Thailand for seven years, over the murders of an Iraqi, an Austrian and a United Arab Emirates national. He is suspected of luring the tourists into an unlicensed taxi at Bangkok’s Don Muang international airport before killing them and dumping the bodies. Police have conducted a search of his home and seized evidence. Muhamad, who has denied involvement in the killings, is understood to have been detained after European Union embassies demanded action on the murders. “He was arrested on Thursday night,” a tourist police official at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport said. He was tracked down after it was discovered that he had used a credit card belonging to one of the murdered French tourists, he said. Police are still trying to find the credit card and may need a few days to build a case before laying any charges against Muhamad. European Union heads of mission are understood to have met Thursday and pushed for a wider search for more victims. The head of the consular section at an EU embassy in Bangkok was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying that diplomats had asked police to link the killings and had requested a search for more victims. “We think there could be more bodies out there. We want all hospitals to be checked for bodies of foreigners with stab wounds.” The tourist police official acknowledged that police had been under pressure over the case of the vanished foreigners. EU consular officials could not be immediately reached for comment today. The French embassy refused to comment, but French officials in Thailand have issued a travel advisory, warning nationals not to use unlicensed taxis at the airport.

Phuket News

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