Man suspected of journalist killing turns himself in

NAKHON SRI THAMMARAT: A man wanted on suspicion of involvement in the killing of Matichon journalist Athiwat Chainurat handed himself in to authorities in Nakhon Sri Thammarat on October 22.

Lamduan “Kop” Kaowsisot, 25, from Bang Khan District gave himself up to Amnuay Jaritngam, headman of Village 1, Tambon Ban Lamnao, Bang Khan District after learning that a warrant for his arrest had been issued by Nakhon Sri Thammarat Provincial Court. The warrant was issued on charges of premeditated murder.

Mr Athiwat was shot dead in his home on August 1. Police believe the killing is linked to the victim’s reporting on the corrupt practices of some local politicians. The case drew widespread criticism, including from the well-known international organization Reporters Without Borders, which issued a statement saying it was outraged by the killing.

Mr Lamduan was taken to Bang Khan District Chief Manat Phengsut, who in turn escorted the suspect to Nakhon Sri Thammarat Provincial Governor Phanu Uthairat. Mr Lamduan was accompanied throughout by his mother, 55-year-old Prasert Kaowsisot.

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After speaking with Mr Lamduan, who denied any involvement in Mr Athiwat’s killing, Gov Phanu said that he would guarantee the safety of the suspect while in custody of the justice system.

Mr Lamduan was then handed over to police to be charged. Nakhon Sri Thammarat Provincial Police Commander Sarawut Phiranon said that police had clear evidence proving Mr Lamduan was one of the men in the team that murdered Mr Athiwat.

He declined to release any further details, however.

The court has also issued a warrant for the arrest of 32-year-old Sakchai Abdullahree in the same case. Also known as “Bang Kohp”, the native of Tha Sala District has thus far managed to elude authorities, Maj Gen Sarawut said.

Mr Amnuay said that he would like to know what evidence police have on Mr Lamduan. The village chief added that since the warrant was issued on August 28, Mr Lamduan has been at his house the whole time. He questioned why police had not come by to arrest him. In the end, Mr Lamduan handed himself in because he was worried for his safety, he added.

Mrs Prasert said she had first learned of the arrest warrant from the media. She also wondered why police had not come to arrest her son at their house, which is only 1.5km from a police station. Mr Lamduan lived at home and worked as a rubber tapper, she said.

A source in the police investigation team said that police believe Mr Lamduan was one of four men who killed Mr Athiwat, but were not yet sure what role each man played in carrying out the murder.

The .32 pistol used in the killing has been traced to an owner in Surat Thani who reported the weapon missing some years ago. Since then, the gun is known to have fallen into the hands of a well-known local politician from one of Nakhon Sri Thammarat’s coastal districts. Police are investigating his involvement in the case, the source revealed.

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