Adul denies murder 'political'
National police chief Adul Saengsingkaew has rejected rumours the murder of anti-Thaksin campaigner and failed pyramid scheme operator Akeyuth Anchanbutr was politically motivated.
- Published: 13/06/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Rescue workers remove a body suspected to be that of missing businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr. The corpse was found buried close to a fish pond near Jingjo mountain in tambon Chai Buri in Phatthalung’s Muang district. (Photo by Wichayant Boonchote)
However, anti-Thaksin groups and a close aide of the former businessman, whose body was discovered Wednesday, insisted the slaying was a contract hit.
Pol Gen Adul's remark was consistent with comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who insists Akeyuth's death was a murder-robbery.
Pol Gen Adul earlier said police had enough evidence to arrest the three suspects in custody, but it was still too early to say if those suspects had acted on the orders of more important people.
Deputy police chief Pansiri Prapawat, has been assigned to oversee the investigation and will consider whether a special team should be set up to handle the case, Pol Gen Adul said.
Asked if Akeyuth's case had anything to do with politics, the national police chief said: "No."
Akeyuth's body was found under this dead grass in a makeshift grave.
The businessman's body was recovered Wednesday afternoon near a fish pond in tambon Chai Buri, about 2 kilometres from Jingjo mountain in Phatthalung's Muang district.
Escorted by 300 police officers, the three suspects in the killing _ Akeyuth's driver Santiphap Pengduang, Chaowalit Oonchum and Thiwakorn Kua-thong _ led authorities to where they allegedly buried the body.
An initial examination points to the victim being strangled, police said. His face also showed signs of being battered with a hard object.
The victim's sister, Arunee Sunthornpat, identified the body as her brother's from a birthmark located behind an ear.
A forensic examination was ordered to confirm the victim's identity, and the body was expected to arrive at the Institute of Forensic Medicine last night.
Police also detained Mr Santiphap's father, Sgt Maj 1st Class Itthipol Pengduang, with the consent of the army, after an investigation initially found that Mr Santiphap had left some of Akeyuth's money with his father.
Police last night retrieved 2 million baht in cash from the Songkhla house of Plien Pengduang, Sgt Maj 1st Class Itthipol's father and Mr Santiphap's grandfather.
Akeyuth withdrew 5 million baht from a bank on Friday before contact with him was lost.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau Wednesday sought a warrant for the arrest of a fourth suspect, Sutthipong Pimpisarn, in connection with the murder. (Story continues below)
The driver and accused killer (in white shirt) and his alleged accomplice (left) led police to the spot where Akeyuth's body was covered with dead grass in the Phattalung mountains. (Post Today photo)
The four face charges of murder, concealment and abduction, among others.
Mr Chalerm said there was nothing complicated about Akeyuth's death. He said Mr Santiphap had killed the businessman to rob him of 5 million baht in cash.
Mr Chalerm also said that Akeyuth had been careless about his personal security.
"He didn't look into the background of his driver," he said.
Mr Chalerm rejected claims by Akeyuth's lawyer that the murder was politically motivated.
Suwat Apaipak, also a lawyer for the People's Alliance for Democracy, remained adamant that Akeyuth's murder was a contract killing.
"If he has evidence to back his claim, he can hand it to me. Police are investigating based on the evidence," Mr Chalerm said.
In a recent radio interview, Mr Suwat said Mr Santiphap worked for a military mafia figure who was linked to abductions, murders and debt-collection.
Mr Suwat said Akeyuth was sloppy when he hired Mr Santiphap as a driver in November last year.
Mr Santiphap was also a gambling addict, he said.
"I met Mr Santiphap quite often and he seemed rather slow until [Tuesday]. He talked like he had done it [similar crimes] before," Mr Suwat said.
"It [the murder] had been planned for some time."
Mr Suwat said Akeyuth had sent signals at least twice that he was in danger.
He called his sister to ask about a house key on the night of his abduction, and wrote the wrong year on the cheques used to withdraw 5 million baht the day of his disappearance.
Democrat Party MP Sirichoke Sopha said the case was suspicious as some police officers who had been prosecuted in the disappearance of missing Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit showed up at the police press conference on Tuesday on the arrest of Mr Santiphap.
According to a source, Akeyuth was scheduled to appear as a key witness on July 8 in a libel case involving the Four Seasons Hotel scandal he started.
Akeyuth caused a political storm when he claimed he saw Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra meeting business people at the hotel last year.
Mr Akeyuth was also a core member of the Guy Fawkes white-mask anti-government movement.
Suwat Apaipak, lawyer for the late Akeyuth Anchanbutr, was the first to say he believes Akeyuth's killing was a political murder. He is also a leading lawyer and frequent speaker for the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). (File photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)
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