Army admits officer threatened Israeli's life

Army admits officer threatened Israeli's life

Crusading lawyer exposes gunfire incident that police in Sakon Nakhon originally refused to touch

Lawyer Sittra Biebangkerd (second from right at table) briefs reporters on the case of an Israeli man whose life was threatened by a Thai army officer, at his law firm on Thursday. (Photo from Sittra Biebangkerd Facebook)
Lawyer Sittra Biebangkerd (second from right at table) briefs reporters on the case of an Israeli man whose life was threatened by a Thai army officer, at his law firm on Thursday. (Photo from Sittra Biebangkerd Facebook)

The army has admitted that a soldier threatened the life of an Israeli man by firing a gun at his coffee shop after the case was disclosed by a lawyer.

Maj Gen Worachet Chawananoraseth, the spokesman for the Second Army Region, said on Saturday that Lt Preecha Chaimat, 51, of the Third Engineering Battalion based in Nakhon Ratchasima, had fired bullets to threaten the Israeli man.

The incident took place two months ago but was first disclosed on Thursday by Sittra Biebangkerd, a high-profile lawyer who has developed a reputation for taking on cases against powerful individuals and institutions.

The lawyer said on his Facebook page that an army officer, whose name was not revealed, raided the coffee shop of the Israeli man in Sawang Daen Din district of Sakon Nakhon province where he lived with his children on Aug 6. The officer fired a number of bullets at the scene, according to the lawyer.

The Israeli, identified as Rudy Bahar, 53, later sought help from Mr Sittra’s law firm after receiving threats and after police in the northeastern province refused to take the case.

At a media briefing at Mr Sittra’s office on Thursday, Mr Bahar’s daughter, who was not named, provided additional background on the case.

Mr Bahar, a longtime resident of Thailand, has three sons and two daughters with his Thai wife. The family had a motorcycle shop in Pattaya, but about four years ago Mr Bahar’s wife wanted to run a coffee shop in her hometown in Sakon Nakhon.

The couple invested about 2 million baht in the business. At the time, a new road was being built in the area. A military officer with the rank of lieutenant was supervising the project and he came to know Mr Bahar’s wife. 

The confrontation between the officer and Mr Bahar occurred as the coffee shop was opening on Aug 6, his daughter said. When Mr Bahar saw the soldier arriving, he asked him to leave. The officer got upset and pulled out his gun, firing four shots at the ground and five more in the direction of Mr Bahar. Fortunately, the bullets did not hit anyone, said his daughter.

After the shooting, the Israeli man took his children to stay at their house in Pattaya out of fear for their safety, Thai media reported.

Mr Sittra said his client went to the Sawang Daen Din police station but officers refused to accept his complaint because, according to the post, soldiers were more powerful in the area than the police.

He was later conned by an interpreter to sign a document on Aug 7 to declare that he would not pursue legal action against the soldier, according to the lawyer.

The motive for the shooting was unclear but the lawyer said in his Facebook post that the woman had had an affair with the officer.

Maj Gen Worachet said soldiers from the Second Army Region took the officer to the Sawang Daen Din police station on Thursday — the same day that Mr Sittra revealed the incident — to be informed about charges of possessing a firearm in public and firing it in public. The weapon was seized.

Although Lt Preecha was released as police are still compiling evidence, the army has set up a committee to consider disciplinary punishment against him, the spokesman said.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (148)

More than 500 Ukrainian localities without power: ministry

KYIV, Ukraine: More than 500 Ukrainian localities remained without power Sunday following weeks of Russian airstrikes on the electric grid, an interior ministry official said.

4 Dec 2022

'Sun torture' probe plea

Army should back off from investigation after dozen recruits wound up in hospital under hours-long exposure to blazing sun, human rights advocate says.

4 Dec 2022

Protest-hit Iran abolishes morality police

TEHRAN: Iran has scrapped its morality police after more than two months of protests triggered by the arrest of Mahsa Amini for allegedly violating the country's strict female dress code, local media said Sunday.

4 Dec 2022