CHALONG: Mystery surrounds the death of Italian tourist Marco Oniga, 44, whose charred remains were found on the bed of his apartment in Chalong on the afternoon of September 1.
At about 4:30 pm, Mr Oniga’s naked body was discovered by one of the apartment building’s maids. As she was making her daily rounds, the maid smelled smoke coming from room 312 and noticed that the locked door was hot to the touch.
She ran down to the office and returned with a master key, which she used to open the smoke-filled room.
Lying on the bed was Mr Oniga, face up on a badly-burned mattress made of coconut husk. Police found a cigarette butt on the bed, thought to have ignited the fire, along with many pages from a partly-burned English-language newspaper.
The walls and ceiling had extensive smoke damage, but the fire was contained to the bed and body of Mr Oniga, who died with both fists clenched. One of his knees was raised; the other was flush to the mattress. Next to the bed was a small, plastic rubbish bin that did not ignite.
Staff at the apartment building said Mr Oniga rented the room and moved in on August 23, 2006.
Pol Capt Peerapun Meemak of the Chalong Police said that the man’s passport, which was partially burned, indicated that he had entered the country the day before, on August 22.
Mr Oniga had made numerous trips to Thailand and lived in Buri Ram Province with his wife, Manee Boonyaprasit, 43, for seven years.
The childless couple broke up about two months ago, Capt Peerapun said.
Police contacted K. Manee, who identified the the body as that of her estranged husband from a gold necklace with Buddha amulet that he was wearing at the time of his death, he added.
The deceased was epileptic, but Capt Peerapun refused to speculate whether that fact may have been a contributing factor in his death.
He also criticized as presumptuous a report in a Thai-language newspaper speculating that the death was a suicide. Such reports are unfair to the victim’s relatives, he said.
An investigation into the cause of the fire would begin only after an autopsy is performed and the relatives claim the body, now being kept at Vachira Phuket Hospital, Capt Peerapun added.
Francesco Cavaliere, Italy’s Honorary Consul in Phuket, confirmed to the Gazette that Mr Oniga’s relatives had been contacted. They were expected to arrive in Thailand some time today, he said.
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