Phang Nga murder linked to land dispute

PHUKET CITY: The recent murder of a village headman on the island of Phra Thong in Phang Nga’s Kuraburi District, about a four-hour drive north of Phuket, may have been related to a land dispute, local police said.

The Thai-language Siangtai Daily newspaper recently carried a report of the killing on the Phang Nga mainland, close to the island.

On the morning of May 4, 39-year-old Yossapol Saedaeng was found dead with a bullet wound to the neck on a dirt road near the village harbor, the report said.

Mr Yossapol was headman of Ban Tha Pae Yoi village on Koh Phra Thong.

Kuraburi Police later that morning arrested three men who ultimately confessed to their involvement in the murder: Wararit Damkhong, 41; Anont Klapkaew, 26; and Praditchai Khongchuay, 31.

At the time of their arrests, the trio were in possession of two loaded pistols, police said.

The pattern of the killing was a familiar one. Wararit reportedly recruited the other two men to carry out the shooting; Praditchai was the driver; Anont pulled the trigger.

The report did not say who hired the three men, but Kuraburi Police Superintendent Prasit Saeng-iam was quoted as saying the most likely motive was local politics and a land dispute.

Elections for the post of headman of Ban Tha Pae Yoi had been due to be held on May 7.

A source described Yossapol as a diligent village headman who was loved by the villagers of Ban Tha Pae Yoi and who had already been re-elected to his position several times.

This time, two candidates had been expected to stand for the post: Yossapol and another individual not named in the report.

Yet on April 27, the official registration day, only Mr Yossapol registered.

The report did not offer an explanation as to why the second candidate had withdrawn.

Yossapol, the source speculated, might have been killed by someone who wanted the position.

“It’s well known that land on Koh Phra Thong is of interest to investors buying it up to build hotels and resorts,” the source said.

— Dan Waites

Phuket News
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