FORMER deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn, who was arrested on Tuesday over charges of the premeditated killing of billionaire Chuwong Saetang in an apparent 2015 car accident, was granted bail by Bangkok’s Phra Khanong Court and ordered not to leave the country.
Apart from providing a bail guarantee of Bt2 million, Banyin is also required to report to a probation official every 12 days.
Meanwhile, Banyin yesterday claimed that he was being unfairly targeted by his opponents and voiced surprise that police had produced evidence against him more than a year after the incident.
He also dismissed a claim made by Chuwong’s older sister Wanpen Thanathamsiri at a press conference on Sunday that he had fired a gun to intimidate them. He claimed that it was only after this press conference that police had applied to the court for an arrest warrant for him.
“I have never received a summons for this [premeditated murder] charge. They investigated the case for a year and just came up with incriminating evidence at around the same time the family hosted a press conference. This seems like an intentional move,” he added.
Banyin added that he had gone to the resort in Nakhon Ratchasima on Monday to play golf with 10 friends, yet the media claimed he had gone just with former stockbroker Uracha Wachirakulton, 26. He claimed that he had known Uracha before, but they only became close after they found themselves in the same boat as suspects of the Chuwong share transfer case. He denied romantic links to Uracha.
“Certain people are trying to discredit me and paint me as a person who intimidated others and tried to flee,” he said.
Banyin also said that he had told police that he would only testify in court, yet he said they still wanted to interrogate him. Hence, he said, it was up to the media to see if he was being treated fairly. His comment came after 20 officers from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) escorted him to court yesterday to apply for the first round of 12-day detention until July 10. Banyin’s father and daughter were at hand to provide moral support.
Meanwhile, the police and Chuwong’s relatives objected to Banyin’s bail release on grounds that the case could carry a serious penalty or even the death sentence, and the suspect may flee or tamper with evidence.
The detention application stated that Banyin had allegedly conspired with Uracha and others to forge share transfer documents, which saw stocks worth about Bt260 million made out to Uracha, her mother and another woman named Kanthana Siwathanapol – all three of whom are facing legal action for forgery and fraud. The detention application also stated that Banyin allegedly planned Chuwong’s killing to prevent him from finding out about the theft. It alleged that he joined up with unknown persons to stage the road accident in Prawet district on June 26 to conceal the murder.
Deputy national police spokesperson, Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen, said police had solid evidence in the case, but details wouldn’t be revealed yet so as not to affect the ongoing investigation. They planned to probe further to see if any other accomplices exist. As for Banyin’s complaint of not being treated fairly, he said that everything was being done at the court’s discretion.
Separately, CSD superintendent Colonel Jirapop Phuridej said police interrogated Banyin for five hours but did not get any information useful to the case. He said the evidence being used to prosecute Banyin included forensic test results, expert witnesses and CCTV footage.
Banyin’s lawyer Bancha Chaijam, meanwhile, said that the public prosecutors had yet to set a date for indictment in relation to the share-transfer case and that the defendants had already appealed for justice.