PHUKET: Police have arrested three men for the murder of a 72-year-old Kalim resident on April 24.
Eet Chaisit was shot multiple times while driving back from prayer at the local mosque to his home in Kalim, and later died in Patong Hospital (story here).
Police first identified the driver of the motorcycle carrying Mr Eet’s shooter from CCTV footage in the area, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Patchara Boonyasit told a press conference yesterday.
“On May 18, Phuket police and Trat police arrested Suthin Meenpran in Trat’s Koh Chang district,” said Maj Gen Patchara.
Mr Suthin confessed to the crime and gave police information about the whereabouts of the other two suspects.
“On Thursday, Phuket Provincial Police and Patong Police arrested Athit Sanlee, the gunman, at his rented room in Thalang,” Gen Patchara said.
“Mr Athit has an extensive criminal record. He was a suspect in the murder of Jakkrit Nutad in 2012, but the case was dropped by the prosecutor due to lack of evidence and Mr Athit was released.
“However, we will ensure we have enough evidence this time to bring Mr Eet’s case to court.”
Mr Jakkrit was riding home along the Kalim beach road when two men following him pulled alongside and opened fire on January 13, 2012 (story here).
Police believe the killing may have been motivated by a land dispute over alleged encroachment on private land in a street off Phra Baramee Road, the Phuket Gazette was told at the time.
The residents of Phra Barami Road Soi 8, in the Kalim area of Patong, saw their homes destroyed in August 2010 after a development company ordered the demolition of all the homes in the area (story here).
Mr Jakkrit disputed the developer’s claim to the land, saying he legally acquired the 13,600sqm plot in 1992. The long-disputed land case was taken to court after the homes were levelled in 2010.
“The issue was being mediated through the court and they were going to settle the dispute soon,” then Patong Police Superintendent, Arayapan Pukbuakao, said after Mr Jakkrit’s murder.
Also on Thursday, Phuket police and police in Trang arrested Theab Noonueng, who is believed to have masterminded the murders of both Mr Eet last month and also Mr Jakkarit in 2012.
“Mr Theab was renting land in Kalim from Mr Eet. We suspect that they had a dispute over this land, which led to Mr Theab ordering Mr Eet’s murder,” said Gen Patchara.
Gen Patchara explained that Mr Theab was present on the day of Mr Eet’s murder.
“He picked up Mr Athit and the guns after the shooting, and the three escaped Phuket separately shortly after,” said Gen Patchara.
Mr Suthin and Mr Athit were charged with premeditated murder, illegal possession of a firearm and for carrying a firearm in public without permission. Mr Suthin confessed and accepted the charges, while Mr Athit denied the charges.
Mr Theab has been charged with conspiracy to murder, as well as the same charges that were brought against Mr Suthin and Mr Athit. He has also denied the charges.
“Along with the charges directly relating to the murder, Mr Theab was charged with possession of a Category 1 drug with intent to sell. He used this drug money to pay Mr Suthin and Mr Athit,” said Gen Patchara, adding that he was unsure exactly how much the two were paid.
Gen Patchara told the Gazette that he would be taking responsibility for this case to ensure that justice is served.
“These people are gangsters and are always causing problems in Phuket. These land issues have a long history, and I will be looking back into all old cases, including that of Mr Jakkrit’s murder and how Mr Theab was potentially connected to it, so that we can see this current case through,” he said.
— Woranut Pechdee
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