Three more suspects sought in Peera case

SONGKHLA : Police are seeking warrants for the arrest of three more suspects in connection with the murder of Songkhla municipality mayor Peera Tantiserane on Wednesday.

The move came after the first suspect, Paisal Nupan, 47, turned himself in to the authorities on Saturday, a few hours after the warrant was issued for his arrest.

Police have charged him with conspiring in a premeditated murder, illegally possessing guns and illegally carrying a gun in public. The suspect denied all charges.

Police believe Mr Paisal drove a car for the gunmen who shot and killed Peera on Wednesday night, a police source said.

The source said Mr Paisal was a close aide of provincial administration organisation president Uthit Choochuay, an older brother of Kitti Choochuay, owner of Samila radio station, where police found a Toyota Vigo pickup truck thought to have been used in the killing.

Police took Mr Paisal to Mr Uthit's house in the municipality as they searched it yesterday.

Police learned Mr Paisal was at the house before the murder took place. Details of the search were not disclosed.

About 60 witnesses have so far been identified and at least 12 of them have been questioned about the murder, the source said.

Mr Paisal reserves his right to testify only in the presence of his lawyer and in court, according to the source.

The suspect also refused to allow police to conduct a DNA test on him, saying he did not trust them and his arrest was set up by his political opponents.

A police detective team led by Pol Col Itthipol Ajchariyapradit, a deputy Songkhla police chief, was planning to raid a spot believed to be the hideout of a gang of hitmen in a neighbouring province.

Police have found out the gunmen did not live in Songkhla, the source said.

At the scene of Peera's murder, supporters placed bouquets of flowers and left messages of condolence.

Peera was gunned down on Wednesday night after meeting representatives of southern non-governmental organisations to discuss the safety of radioactive material stored in the area.

Earlier on, police suspected the killing might be connected to a row over the radioactive material stored by a company in downtown Songkhla, which had upset residents. Now, the investigators have found the victim was involved in conflicts with several officials at his office, a police source said on Thursday.

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Writer: Wichayant Boonchote
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