Police have confirmed seven human body parts found in the Chao Phraya River belong to a Spanish national who disappeared from his apartment in Klong Toey last month.
The parts, including a head, hand, torso, feet and parts of a leg, were found in several locations in the river in Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi over the past week.
Pol Lt Gen Panya Mamen, a senior police adviser who is lead investigator in the case, said Thursday forensic results have confirmed that fingerprints taken from the dismembered hand matched prints belonging to David Bernat, 40, a Spanish national who was reported missing from Nantiruj Tower in Sukhumvit Soi 8 in Klong Toey where he had stayed since Jan 20.
Bernat was an adviser to a foreign company and had travelled to Thailand several times. The most recent visit was on Jan 19 when he arrived in Bangkok after travelling from Tehran, police said.
He was last seen riding a motorcycle from the apartment he was staying at on the night of Jan 20, police said.
Bernat's relatives reported him missing to police in Spain after they could not get in touch with him, Pol Lt Gen Panya said.
When his colleagues in Thailand heard about the discovery of human body parts in the river, they lodged a complaint with Lumpini police about Bernat's disappearance on Wednesday, police said.
Acting Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Sanit Mahathaworn said Thursday it was a rare case in that police had never found a victim who has been killed and dismembered with a saw in this manner.
According to autopsy results, Pol Gen Sanit said the cause of his death was suffocation.
Police believe based on an initial investigation that Bernat was detained somewhere and "coerced into doing something" before he was killed, cut into parts between Jan 25-27, then dumped into the river.
He cited forensic results showing no food was found in Bernat's stomach, suggesting that he might not have eaten for a couple of days before he was killed.
Police said they are seeking assistance from the Spanish embassy to contact Bernat's relatives to confirm forensic results.
Meanwhile, a team of investigators, Lumpini police and forensic officials searched Bernat's room on the 10th floor of the apartment.
There was a keycard inserted in the door when the police team arrived.
Police searched the room and found money transfer documents showing Bernat had made several transactions to people in Thailand, Spain and Singapore, police said.
Police believe several suspects were involved in the killing and are still in the country lying low, Pol Lt Gen Panya said.
He said it is too early to say whether suspects are part of a multinational crime syndicate or a criminal gang.
Pol Lt Gen Panya said Thais could have been involved in the killing although he could not confirm that at this point. He said the case was "outrageous and the body parts were thrown away separately".
He said Bernat might have been forced to do something and after he did it the culprits brutally killed him to conceal what was done. Pol Lt Gen Panya vowed to arrest suspects within the next 48 hours.