By The Nation
In addition to the police investigation, Songwuth Udom also faces a departmental inquiry over the killing of Chalit Jintana, the director of Tambon Plai Na Suan Hospital.
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation chief Thanya Netithammakun said on Tuesday that an initial investigation had found that the shooting might be related to Songwuth’s personal conflict with the 39-year-old Chalit.
Thanya also instructed supervisors to enact stricter controls over forest protection officials’ possession of HK33 assault rifles and ensure that rifles are returned after patrols are completed.
Songwuth reportedly was armed with an HK33 rifle while he was out on a forest patrol and did not return the weapon afterwards.
Salak Phra wildlife conservation chief Paitoon Intharabutr said he did not know the motive for the killing and his inquiry with other officials could not confirm that Songwuth had had a conflict with Chalit, who had been working in the area for two years.
He also described Songwuth as “a diligent official” who was “well-loved by his co-workers”. He added that he would let justice run its course.
Chalit was killed at 6.45pm on Monday on a local road in Ban Mae Lamoon village.
Songwuth later surrendered to police and admitted he had fired twice at Chalit’s car with his HK33 rifle because he had mistaken the man for an illegal logger.