Accused killer of gambling den gunman says he acted alone
Focus shifts to recovered security cameras as more clues sought in slayings
A man who killed a gunman who had slain three other people at an illegal gambling den in Bangkok on Monday night insisted he acted alone, police said on Saturday.
Police on Saturday took Phiphit Srisuwan, 61, alias “Boy Baan Khrua” to the Bangkok South Criminal Court to seek his detention in connection with the fatal shooting in a building off Rama III Road in Bangkok.
The officers opposed bail, saying he posed a flight risk or might interfere with evidence if released, Thai media reported.
Mr Phiphit has been charged with murder, illegal possession of firearms, carrying them in public and using them. Police said the suspect confessed to all charges.
The court approved his detention from Aug 8 to 19 and he was taken to Bangkok Remand Prison. Criminal suspects can be detained for up to seven 12-day periods, or 84 days, before an indictment must be made.
A source said nobody attended the hearing to apply for bail for his temporary release.
Mr Phiphit is at the centre of a case that has captured public attention because one of the victims of the gunman he is accused of killing was a policeman. The initial police response to inquiries was to question whether the venue where the slayings occurred really was a gambling den.
The fact that all the security cameras were hastily dismantled before police arrived to investigate the killings added to the intrigue.
Before being brought to the court on Saturday, the 61-year-old suspect was taken for a crime re-enactment on the ground floor of the four-storey commercial building in Soi 66 off Rama III Road in Yannawa district.
Pol Lt Gen Pakapong Pongpetra, chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, went to Thung Mahamek station at around 8am on Saturday to interrogate the suspect before the man was taken for the crime re-enactment.
Mr Phiphit surrendered to police on Friday night — some media had erroneously reported earlier that he turned himself in on Thursday — to answer a charge of killing Thavorn Seesod, 51.
During the interrogation, Mr Phiphit confessed to having fired shots at Thavorn as he was gambling at the venue. He claimed Thavorn had shot dead Pol Maj Watthanaset Samnianprasert, who was also gambling there. Mr Phiphit then fired more shots at Thavorn before fleeing.
Pol Lt Gen Pakapong said the suspect claimed he had acted alone, but police investigators are continuing their inquiries.
Pol Maj Watthanaset, a 32-year-old interrogation inspector with the Samae Dam police station, and two women were shot dead at the gambling den on Monday night.
During the crime re-enactment, Mr Phiphit said he was not working at the gambling den as reported but was a regular customer who was gambling there on the night in question. He heard gunfire and said he saw Thavorn aiming randomly as he opened fire. At one point, he said, Thavorn aimed at him, so he used a pistol he was carrying to fire shots in self-defence.
Police are preparing to press additional charges of colluding in gambling against Mr Phiphit.
Investigators are now focusing their attention on the security cameras, recordings and gambling equipment they have recovered, after it was hastily removed from the gambling den on Monday night.
The equipment was found on Friday in a three-storey shophouse opposite the building housing the casino.
So far they have made one arrest in connection with attempts to destroy evidence. Thanabul Sarnluek, 46, of Bang Khun Thian district, was taken to court on Saturday morning and released on 200,000-baht bail posted by his relatives.
Police had sought to detain him for 12 days because they viewed him as a flight risk but the court disagreed.
Police say Mr Thanabul and others removed gambling tables and other equipment from the premises on Monday night in what was seen as an attempt to destroy evidence and help those involved to escape punishment or receive minimal punishement.
During the police interrogation, the suspect confessed to the charges, police said.
Former massage parlour tycoon and MP Chuwit Kamolvisit told Spring News this week that the gambling den in Yannawa had been operating for over 20 years and was run by a man known as “Hia Tee”. His whereabouts are still unknown.