Police follow money trail in karaoke bar murder
Criticism of 'lenient treatment' rejected
Authorities are tracking the money trail of the five people allegedly involved in the murder of a 22-year-old karaoke bar hostess to determine whether they were linked with the drug trade.
Maj Gen Yanyong Wech-osoth, commander of the Investigation Division of Provincial Police Region 4, said Wednesday his agency shared information on the case with the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) so they will probe the transactions of the suspects.
"Officials will expedite their investigation to track the money trail [of the suspects] to determine whether they were connected with narcotics," Maj Gen Yanyong said.
He said officers will also investigate people close to the suspects.
The five suspects in the murder and dismembering of karaoke bar worker Warisara Klinjui have been remanded in custody at Khon Kaen Central Prison.
Preeyanuch “Preaw” Nonwangchai, Kawita “Earn” Ratchada, and Apiwan “Jae” Satayabundit were arrested on Saturday in the Myanmar town of Tachilek. They were then handed over to Thai immigration officers in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.
The other two suspects, Wasin Namprom, 25, and Jidarat Promkhun, 21, were arrested on May 30.
Ms Preeyanuch allegedly confessed to strangling Warisara and dismembering her body. The victim’s body parts were recovered from a shallow grave in Khon Kaen’s Khao Suan Kwang district on May 25.
Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Police defended officers accused of treating the murder suspects leniently, saying the police involved have all performed their duties properly since the warrants for the arrest of the suspects were issued.
Speaking at the prison on Wednesday, Ms Kawita's sister, who asked not to be named, said Kawita told her she was drunk at an entertainment venue in Muang Khon Kaen municipality on the night of May 23, when Ms Preeyanuch came to pick her up and promised to take her home. But she added her sister was taken to several places before being murdered.
Wirachai Petchrat, chief of Khon Kaen Central Prison, said psychologists from Khon Kaen Hospital have been brought to talk with the suspects and document their backgrounds.
He said Ms Preeyanuch appeared tense from time to time, adding the five were locked up in different cells.
Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the ONCB, said the agency had shared 18 names of drug suspects with Myanmar authorities.
One of them is Tawatchai "Kao" Aumchumpu, who allegedly helped Ms Preeyanuch, Ms Kawita and Ms Apiwan flee after the murder to Tachilek where they worked in a karaoke bar.
Another of the 18 suspects is the high-profile Lt Col Yi Se, also known by his Thai name of Chaiwat Phonsakunphaisan, the officer said.
Some of the suspects had been found to run drug businesses in Tachilek and nearby areas, he said.
He said they sometimes sneaked into Thailand across natural border points.
Mr Sirinya said he had talked with Myanmar police chief Pol Brig Gen Aung Win Oo to seek cross-border cooperation to find the suspects and the talks had been positive.