Land debt row led to Krabi killings

national July 17, 2017 01:00

By The Nation

Killing of eight originated from mortgage conflicts, some before the courts; gang leader shot 11 people after his accomplices refused, police say suspects confessed



POLICE have apprehended a group of seven men for the massacre of eight members of one family in Krabi province in the South last week – a crime that shocked the country.

Thais awoke to the shocking news last Tuesday that eight people – three of them children – were killed en masse in the house of Worayuth Sunglung, a village headman in Ao Luek district. The victims were shot in the head execution-style, police said. 

National police chief Pol-General Chakthip Chaijinda said yesterday that all seven suspects confessed to police. Six of them claimed that they were misinformed about the objective of the crime by the seventh suspect, identified only as Bang Fath, a former security guard.

Chakthip said Bang Fath had land disputes with Worayuth after the village chief took out mortgages on several parcels of land with Bang Fath. However, Bang Fath refused to return the land, worth millions of baht, after Worayuth repaid the debts. Some cases related to the mortgage dispute are being heard in court. 

Worayuth, out of anger, allegedly threatened Bang Fath’s life, triggering Bang Fath to take action. 

Chakthip said Bang Fath formed a team of six men, and falsely claimed that Worayuth owed him Bt3 million. The team had tried to confront Worayuth on three previous occasions before managing to do that last week.

“Our investigation showed that it was Bang Fath who shot to death all the victims,” Chakthip said, adding he would seek capital punishment for the suspects.

“We will use all the laws to prosecute them and we will seek death sentences for them. They killed people and children without mercy.”

Prior to the massacre last Tuesday, Bang Fath’s team had secretly visited nearby areas and Worayuth’s house several times to confirm the location.

A source later identified Bang Fath as Surifath Bannopwongsakul, saying he came from Phang Nga province.

The national police chief insisted that the seven suspects were civilians, dismissing previous rumours they had a military background. “Some of them were rubber tappers who worked for Bang Fath at a plantation,” he said.

On the afternoon of July 10, the doors to Worayuth’s house were opened for the gang as the assailants wore camouflage clothes and had claimed they were security officials. Worayuth’s house was in the same compound as four others and was used as his office.

However, Worayuth had not yet returned home so the group held those in the house at the time as hostages while waiting for him. The number of people taken hostage increased as other family members from other houses in the same compound came to the main house.

Worayuth arrived home at about 8pm, bringing the number of those held hostage to 11. The assailants separated the group in different rooms while negotiation started with Worayuth.

Police quoted Surifath as confessing that he intended to kill only Worayuth’s family – namely Worayuth, his wife and their three children. But as the number of those who witnessed his crime increased, he decided to kill them all.

Eight people died while three others, including a sleeping three-month-old baby survived. An earlier report claimed the baby’s mother covered the baby with a blanket, so that the killer was unable to see him.

At first, Surifath allegedly gave weapons to other gang members to help murder people in the house. When they refused, he allegedly did the job himself. 

Chakthip told a press conference in Krabi that during the hostage taking, Bang Fath set up documents stating that Worayuth transferred his Toyota Yaris to him.

The same source added that Bang Fath initially tried to stage a scene to make people believe Worayuth killed his family members and himself because of pressure over business woes.

He forced Worayuth to telephone one friend to borrow Bt500,000, saying that he had business problems.

After the massacre, the group fled in two vehicles and also stole Worayuth’s car. They hid their Fortuner in Ao Luek and burnt Worayuth’s car in Phang Nga.

Bang Fath then boarded a public bus to Phuket and hid in a rented house. Police arrested the first suspect in Nakhon Si Thammarat before extending the investigation that led to other suspects.

The suspects were taken to Phang Nga’s Muang district to sites where they are said to have hidden and destroyed evidence. 

At one suspect’s house in the Phang Nga police found potential evidence, including phone SIM cards and identity cards belonging to the victims, as well as three guns and ammunition reportedly belonging to Worayuth.

Confessions by the suspects then led police to retrieve gloves and handcuffs that they used. 

 

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