Friday, January 11, 2008

Canadian Murder Story Gets Nuttier

Victim tells of earlier clash with police

Andrew Drummond,Cindy Tilney

The Nation

After the shooting of two young Canadians in Pai, locals are torn on the cause of the drama.

People are unsure whether to believe a 24-year-old Canadian woman, who some claim is a troublemaker, or a 37-year-old Thai police sergeant, with a reputation for drinking - and shooting his gun off.

Controversy is raging in Pai, in Canada, and on the Internet. The only established facts are that 24-year-old tourist John 'Leo' del Pinto is dead, after being shot in the head and chest.

His companion Carly Reisig, also 24, was also shot in the chest, but survived. She may be the only witness against Police Sergeant Uthai Dechawiwat, who has been charged with murder and manslaughter.

Note: Charged with murder and manslaughter. Whatever that means. But released on bail.

Reisig said that two months before del Pinto arrived in Thailand from Calgary, she had intervened in a scuffle in a bar involving a tourist and a former Thai boyfriend called 'Nui'.

"The Israeli guy hit my Thai boyfriend and I tried to break it up ... the police came and took them outside and they circled around Nui and were pushing him, so ... I went in there and hit one of the cops. I was very drunk that night," she said.

On another occasion she said she was involved in a fight at a regular party at a nearby arts market called Pittalew with her current boyfriend Rattaporn Varawadee, nicknamed "Fuen".

This chick is a trouble maker.


Reisig, however, stuck to her claim Police Sgt Major Uthai was the one who struck the first blow at 2am last Sunday. "Leo and I were always messing around and play-fighting. We might have even been yelling at each other, play-fighting, but it didn't give anyone the right to shoot us. The guy who did this was crazy.

This woman is not only a trouble maker, but she is obnoxious.

Here is the Thai version:

Kanasphuchit Sankam, owner of a karaoke bar, who was eating at the noodle shop, said: "I watched the couple come up, punching each other and yelling... It didn't look like they were pretending, it looked like a real fight ...

"I watched Uthai go over to try and stop the fight. He said 'Stop, I am police' and held out his hand in front of him, with his other hand ready to draw his gun. They pushed him over and he got his gun out.

"The girl started crying loudly and he told her to calm down and go and sit down. The policeman then started walking away from the scene, but the girl got up and hit him.

"Leo then joined her in hitting him and they all fell onto the ground. I couldn't see them anymore because of the parked cars, but I heard three shots go off. If the girl had not provoked him, it wouldn't have happened."

A similar story, in almost uncannily identical words, was told by the noodle shop owner. But the Thai witnesses deny seeing the actual shooting.

Now, if Uthai hadn't been "released on bail," I would be more sympathetic to the Thai version of events.

Police investigator Lt-Col Sombat Panya has already given a reason for the couple fighting. He said del Pinto, recently arrived in Thailand, found out Reisig was pregnant to her Thai boyfriend Fuen. Reisig, however, denies being pregnant.

What does this have to do with anything? Uthai, the cop, has nothing to do with the pregnancy.

As in the case of British backpackers gunned down by a policeman in Kanchanaburi in 2004, it seems unlikely Reisig will be able to produce witnesses to prove her side of the story. The only uncontested evidence may be forensic, which is in the hands of local police.

Where was Fuen, the boyfriend?

But, Sgt Uthai, who claims his gun fired accidentally, may have to explain how three bullets hit vital targets so accurately.

If it was an accidental shooting, why is he being charged with murder?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It does get "nuttier" and murkier, but the fact remains, the cop fired three shots- shot the young man in the face, finished him with another to the chest, and then shot the girl. She may be obnoxious- she maybe even got her best friend shot- but there is no justification for the shooting, period. That much is clear no matter which version of the story one thinks is accurate (probably neither one so far is). The Thai police have a serious credibility problem- the Kanchanaburi murders demonstrate that. The locals may be telling the truth, but just as likely they are too scared to tell the whole story. Somewhere there are some parents who are mourning their boy because of an out of control cop- who may or not pay for his crime.