Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008
Thai Prime Minister orders investigation into tourist killings

From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok
April 10 2008


Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej today (Thursday) formally
ordered an investigation into the conduct of a Thai policeman who shot
dead a Canadian tourist and injured a second.


The Thai Premier, in his role as the Chairman of the Department of
Special Investigations, ordered the DSI to formally investigate charges
of murder and attempted murder.


The move comes in the midst of allegations that police in Pai, a
picturesque tourist village in northern Thailand, deliberately attempted
to cover up the actions of one of their own officers, whom they had to
investigate.


The case was taken up by the Thai Human Rights Commission.
Commissioner Saisuree Kosolnavin and a team found evidence that
completely contradicted the investigation conducted by Police Colonel
Sombat Panya of the local Pai police.


Colonel Panya claimed that Canadian Leo Del Pinto, 24, from Calgary
and Carly Reisig, 24, from Chilliwack, B.C. had made an unprovoked
attack on Police Sergeant Uthai Dechawiwat after he broke up a fight
between them in January this year.


Uthai, he claimed, shot in self defence as he fell to the ground. His automatic had a hair trigger.


The police story was subsequently publish in the local press and the wire stories and transmitted worldwide.


Police further said that nevertheless Sgt Uthai had been charged with
murder and attempted murder but on investigation there was no court
record of such charges.


Witnesses and forensic evidence examined by Thailand's leading
pathologist Dr. Pornthip Rojanasund however totally contradicted the
police story. 


Forensic evidence showed that the policeman shot down into Del
Pinto's head. Witnesses said that Sergeant Uthai pistol whipped Ms
Reisig before shooting her under her left breast.


The conduct of the police had earlier been referred by the TNHRC to the country's Anti-Corruption Commission.


Dr. Saisuree said: 'This development is very encouraging. The process
has already started as Ms. Reisig and another witness have been allowed
to give evidence in court.'

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