Preecha assassin still at large

PHUKET CITY: The hunt continues for Samrerng Klaising, the gunman wanted for assassinating prominent Phuket businessman Preecha “Ko Noi” Kraitas, but so far without result.

However, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pol Maj Gen Decha Budnampeth said yesterday that police are making progress in their investigation.

Samrerng, originally from Petchaburi Province, and his driver in the shooting, whom police have yet to name, are believed to be hiding in Central Thailand.

“The gunman is a member of the Thai Practical Shooting Association, and police are working hard to find the two criminals,” Gen Decha said, adding, “We cannot say anything more because it might help them evade arrest.”

Two police officers, Pol Capt Wanchana Polpalangkul and Pol Sgt Pongsak Kosiratanapibal, who were formerly attached to the province’s élite Special Operations Unit, were arrested shortly after the murder but are now out out on bail.

Answering criticism over this, Gen Decha explained that this was not a police decision, nor the decision of the Phuket Provincial Court.

“The two were granted bail by the Region 8 Court of Appeal [in Surat Thani]. The Phuket police opposed bail at the first hearing in the Phuket court,” he said.

The Phuket court agreed with the police and denied bail to the two men. The two then appealed to the court in Surat Thani, which freed them.

Wanchana is accused of organizing the killing, while Pongsak is accused of identifying K. Preecha for the gunman.

“If people are suspicious about how the police work, please keep in mind that we can hold suspects for only 48 hours before bringing them to court – then it is up to the court [to decide whether they remain in custody],” Gen Decha said.

He added, however, that Wanchana and Pongsak had been helpful to the police investigation.

“They have been cooperative, giving us information that has helped us to identify the gunman, and information that will help us to arrest him,” he said.

Phuket News
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