In a series of sweep searches Tuesday night in Trat province where a suspect in the Sonthi Limthongkul assassination attempt case is based, police found a large number of war weapons and munitions hidden.
The four places searched by various police teams are logging factories where Sgt Major Panya Srirao had reportedly hidden in the disguise of a logging worker. Pol General Thanee Somboonsap led the search operation and had not yet provided any detail about the discovery of the weapons. A team of policemen also visited the wife of Panya at his house in Bor Rai district and interviewed her for his whereabout. She told police that he was away to his duty in the deep South a few months ago, and said she did not believe he was part of the murder plot to kill the media mogul in Apirl.
There are now two suspects identified by police, Panya and Pol L/C Worrawuth Mungsanti, who is also at large. The Department of Special Investigation, to which Worrawuth has previously been attached, said Worrawuth was on leave, and denied that it still gave duty assignments to him after the shooting of Sondhi in April.
One of the four places searched by police is a logging company owned by a former MP who is a daughtinlaw of a former Army commander. Police said Panya was working here as a worker under the April shooting, and said they found no information about him after interviewing two workers whowere known friends of Panya.
A police source said police could not yet determine whether there was a suspicious link between Panya and the former Army chief.
Another police source said they were now tracing a link between the two suspects and a group of special operations officers based in Lop Buri, where Panya’s regular unit is located. Police said these officers were close to a retired general with political influence who was cooridnating with a police colonel and an Army lieutenant general.
These two police and Army officers had earlier released “decoy leads” to confuse police investigators working on the case, before Thanee later became aware of their efforts to confuse police, and launched a second probe effort that later led to the issuing of arrest warrants for the two suspects.
Retired general Somjate Bunthanom called on police to publicly identify everyone involved in police implication. He said the police’s “vague statement” mentioning an Army lieutenant general could lead the public into thinking that it was the same person close to him. “Police have to clearly explain about what they say to the public and back up all those statements. Don’t be vague, the more [unaccredited] statements are made, the more the public will be confused,” he added.
By The Nation
Published on July 17, 2009