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(Updated) Akeyuth's death confirmed

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The body found in Patthalung has now been confirmed to be that of Akeyuth Anchanbutr, the outspoken Thaksin critic and former pyramid share scheme operator. (Thursday update) 

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The spot where the  body of missing businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr was found on Wednesday. (Post Today photos)

Santipap Pengduang, the driver of missing businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr, is shown with Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrachang Tuesday morning. He has now confessed to killing his boss. APICHART JINAKUL

City police chief Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrachang, second right, talks with investigators about the disappearance of Akeyuth Anchanbutr at the Metropolitan Police Bureau on Monday. APICHART JINAKUL

Thursday afternoon

An autopsy has confirmed that the body exhumed from a crude grave in Phatthalung province is that of missing businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr, who disappeared on June 6, Pol Lt-Gen Charamporn Suramanee said on Thursday.

The deputy police chief told a press conference that the body had been identified using a record of Akeyuth's fingerprints, which the Royal Thai Police Office had on file.

Bruises found on the wrists of the deceased were believed to have been caused by a pair of handcuffs, he said, while bruises on his neck suggested he had being strangled and died of suffocation. A shoe lace found near where Akeyuth was buried would be examined to see if it had been used to strangle him, he added.


Wednesday evening

Thai PBS is reporting that an initial check of the body found (which does seem to be that of Akeyuth Anchanbutr) showed no obvious signs of violence. The neck showed no signs of strangulation which is apparently what his driver said had happened. Unlike our previous report, the latest information indicates the body was naked.


Wednesday afternoon

Our breaking news team just filed this report:

Police on Wednesday found a body suspected to be that of missing businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr, near Jingjo mountain in tambon Chai Buri in Phatthalung's Muang district.

Police said they were awaiting results of a forensic examination to confirm the victim's identity.

Police also contacted Akeyuth's relatives to help identify the clothes found with the body.

The relatives who saw the body said they believed it was Akeyuth.

According to reports, there were bruiseson the face and the body had started to bloat.

They were reported to have been led to the grave by Akeyuth's driver Santipap Pengduang, 24, the prime suspect and confessed killer.


Wednesday noon

Bangkok police chief Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrachang accompanied Santiphap Pengduang on a futile attempt to find the body of Akeyuth Anchanbutr in a field in Pattalung province. The confessed killer was unable to locate the body. Thai PBS reports another team is accompanying a second suspect on a similar hunt.


Wednesday morning update

The Bangkok Post is quoting a police source this morning as saying Santiphap Pengduang, the driver of missing businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr, he killed his boss because he was angry that he had fired his girlfriend.

The arrested man was identified as Chaowalit Woonchum, 23. He was captured on Koh Libong in Trang yesterday. A third suspect, identified as Prakarn Songkhao, 24, was still at large.

Mr Chaowalit has told police that he did not kill Mr Akeyuth but admitted to being involved in hiding his body.

Relatives of Mr Akeyuth say they do not believe Mr Santiphap's story.


Evening update from bangkokpost.com

Missing former pyramid-scheme operator Akeyuth Anchanbutr was murdered and robbed by his driver Santipap "Ball" Pengduang and two other men, police said on Tuesday.

Pol Maj Gen Thitirat Nongharnpitak, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said late afternoon that Mr Santipap had confessed that he and two other men killed Mr Akeyuth in Phatthalung.

Mr Santipap had not so far elaborated on the details, he said.

Police were taking the murder suspect to the crime scene in the southern province by helicopter on Tuesday evening, for a re-enactment.

Earlier, on Tuesday morning, Mr Santipap told police that Mr Akeyuth was not abducted but planned his own disappearance and was last seen heading for Myanmar.


Noon update

Thai PBS has just reported that police were able to arrest Mr Akeyuth's driver at a petrol station in Samutkhram. He was taken to Bangkok were he has just told a packed press conference that Mr Akeyuth left him on route to the South and went with another car. He denied that he had any knowledge of an abduction. Angry family members of Mr Akeyuth say they don't believe him.

The Bangkok Post breaking news team has more detailed information:

Santipap Pengduang, the driver of missing businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr, was arrested in Mae Klong district of Samut Songkhram province late last night, Pol Lt Col Samruay Saensom, a police investigator at Wang Thong Lang police station in Bangkok, confirmed on Tuesday.

He said Mr Santipap was interrogated throughout the night. The questioning was completed about 5am.

Pol Lt Col Samruay said Mr Santipap denied he had abducted his boss, saying that Mr Akeyuth plotted his own disappearance.

Mr Santipap said Mr Akeyuth ordered him to drive to various spots before they separated in Phetchaburi province. From there, Mr Akeyuth had planned to travel to Myanmar.

The driver said Mr Akeyuth took with him the five million baht he earlier withdrew from the bank before disappearing from public view.


Tuesday morning update

Speaking on Thai PBS, lawyer Suwat Apaipak said Mr Akeyuth’s last phone conversations were unusually short and indicated he was not able to speak freely. He seemed to be suggesting that things were not right, asking, for example, where a building key was, when that was something he already knew.


Akeyuth 'likely abducted' say police

Police tracking down missing van, driver

Post Reporters

Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrachang said Monday that police are following up on all leads including the 5 million baht in cash which missing businessman and Thaksin critic Akeyuth Anchanbutr is thought to have taken with him and the tampering with security cameras at his house.

"We are investigating a possible abduction but it is too early to determine a motive," he said.

Police are trying to track down a Volkswagen van and the driver, Santiphap Pengduang, who was believed to have been with Mr Akeyuth before he disappeared.

The businessman's family last heard from him on Friday.

The missing businessman and Thaksin critic Akeyuth Anchanbutr maintains active web pages, along with Facebook and Twitter accounts. (Photo from Akeyuth.net)

According to the city police chief, the Volkswagen was spotted in Surat Thani on Saturday morning.

Several teams of investigators are involved in the hunt and one is in Phatthalung, the home province of Mr Santiphap.

Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit said the driver has a criminal record and was recently charged with extortion.

He said hard disks and servers containing footage from surveillance cameras had been removed from the house.

Police will also examine the finances of Mr Akeyuth's company and question the staff to determine if they are linked to his disappearance.

The city police chief denied a report the van and the driver had been located in Phatthalung.

Pol Maj Gen Supisal Pakdinaruenart, commander of the Crime Suppression Division, said the driver is a key witness in Mr Akeyuth's disappearance.

"He's been with Mr Akeyuth less than a year. He has also had several runs-in with police – snatch-and-grab, robbery and an assault in a karaoke bar that Mr Akeyuth was implicated in," he said.

Suwat Apaipak, Mr Akeyuth's lawyer, said it is possible the disappearance has something to do wtih Mr Akeyuth's sacking of three employees for alleged embezzlement.

Mr Suwat said law enforcement officers might have had something to do with his client's disappearance.

He said the tampering with the surveillance footage suggests the involvement of someone familiar with the law. "They know what kind of evidence investigators will be looking for. The GPS on the van, the mobile phone and the tablet were disconnected. It is highly possible that police could be in on it," he said.


Monday's story

Akeyuth goes missing

Thaksin critic vanishes with 5 million baht

POST REPORTERS

Akeyuth: Fails to show at airport

A police investigation is under way to locate a former pyramid share scheme operator and anti-Thaksin campaigner Akeyuth Anchanbutr who has disappeared for three days with 5 million baht in cash.

City police chief Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrachang said the man's family lodged a complaint on Saturday night.

Quoting the family, Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit said they last heard from Mr Akeyuth on Friday morning and fear for his safety.

He had dinner with a group of friends in the Saphan Kwai area on Thursday night.

Friends and family are concerned Mr Akeyuth might have been abducted.

A complaint has also been lodged with the Crime Suppression Division.

Supat Apaisak, a lawyer for the People's Alliance for Democracy who took Arunee Suthornpat, Mr Akeyuth's younger sister, to file a police complaint about his disappearance, said Sunday he suspected foul play.

Mr Supat said Mr Akeyuth failed to join a round of golf on Friday morning. When a friend phoned him he answered the call, saying he was busy meeting a phu yai (a senior figure).

Ms Arunee said Mr Akeyuth phoned his elder sister Supaporn Waenlor on Friday morning, asking her to take a cheque book to a driver and bring it to him at Suvarnabhumi airport. However, when the driver arrived at the airport, Mr Akeyuth did not show up.

Santiphap Pengduang, 25, Mr Ekkayuth's subordinate, showed up and took the cheque book and left. He then came back with three cheques worth 5 million baht carrying Mr Akeyuth's signature.

He ordered the driver to take the cheques to withdraw the money at the bank and bring the cash back to him at the airport. Mr Santiphap was the person who took the money from the driver.

No one has heard from Mr Akeyuth since, Ms Arunee said.

A source said Mr Akeyuth recently expressed concerns about his safety and wanted to change a security team. He usually had with him four bodyguards.

Mr Akeyuth maintains two Facebook pages which discuss stock trading, criticise the government, and contain rants about celebrities. His latest message was on Thursday, the day on which his family says they last saw him.

Mr Akeyuth is a staunch critic of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He launched a website, Thai Insider, which carries numerous reports and opinion pieces highly critical of the government.

Last year, Mr Akeyuth landed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a scandal when he claimed he was assaulted by a man at a coffee shop at the Four Seasons Hotel. He claimed Ms Yingluck had a private meeting with business people at the hotel.

Also last year, he was implicated in an alleged attack on managers and staff of a karaoke bar in Lat Phrao district. He allegedly ordered his men to attack the staff when the bar's credit card swiping machine malfunctioned as he and his group were paying the bill. Mr Akeyuth had fled overseas to avoid being charged over a pyramid scheme in 1985. He returned to Thailand after the statue of limitations expired.

Learn from listening

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Vocabulary:

abduct: to take somebody away illegally, especially using force - ลักพาตัว

admitted: (of a hospital) accepted for medical treatment - รับ, ให้เข้า, การรับเข้า, อนุญาตให้เข้า

at large: not having been caught by the police - ลอยนวล, ยังไม่ถูกจับกุม

autopsy: a medical examination of a dead person’s body to find out why they died - การชันสูตรศพ

bruise: a mark that you get on your body if you are hit or if you knock against something - แผลฟกช้ำ, รอยฟกช้ำ

buried: covered completely by something, in this case, soil - ฝัง

confesses: admits that you have done something wrong or something that you feel gilty or bad about - สารภาพผิด

deceased: dead - ซึ่งตายแล้ว

deputy: a person who is given the power to do something instead of another person, or the person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง, ตัวแทน,ผู้รักษาการแทน

disappear: to move something or someone somewhere where they can no longer be seen - หายไป, สาบสูญ, สูญหาย

elaborate: containing a lot of careful detail or many detailed parts - อย่างรอบคอบ, ละเอียด, ที่บรรจง

exhume: to remove a dead body from the ground especially in order to examine how the person die - ขุดศพขึ้นมา, ขุดขึ้นจากหลุม

fingerprint: a mark that you leave on something when you touch it, showing the pattern of lines on the skin of your fingers - รอยนิ้วมือ

forensics: scientific methods used to solve crimes and find out who committed them - นิติวิทยาศาสตร์

futile: having no effect or achieving nothing; unsuccessful - เปล่าประโยชน์  

grave: a place in the ground where a dead person is buried - หลุมศพ, หลุมฝังศพ

handcuffs: two metal rings joined by a short chain which lock around a prisoner's wrists on someone - กุญแจมือ

indicate: to express or explain something - ชี้ชัด, ระบุชัด, ชี้บอก

initial: happening at the beginning of a process - ในเบื้องต้น

interrogate: to ask someone a lot of questions in order to get information - สอบถาม,ซักถาม

lawyer: an attorney - ทนาย

murder: the crime of intentionally killing a person - ฆาตกรรม, การฆาตกรรม

obvious: clear; easy to see, recognise or understand - ชัดเจน

pyramid scheme: an illegal way of making money, in which people are persuaded to invest money or sell a product and to persuade others to do the same, with the later investors paying money to the earlier investors, until the payment structure collapses and most people lose their money -

re-enactment (of a crime): repeating the actions of a past event, in this case, of a crime - แผนประกอบคำรับสารภาพ

strangle: to kill somebody by squeezing or pressing on their throat and neck - ฆ่าโดยการบีบคอ

suffocation: dying from a lack of air to breathe - การขาดอากาศหายใจ

suggest: to mention an idea or a plan for somebody else to think about - เสนอ, เสนอแนะ

violence: physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people - ความรุนแรง, การใช้กำลังทำลาย

wrist: the part of your body between your hand and your arm - ข้อมือ

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