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Probe focuses on motives

Sep 23. 2016
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Investigators look at who might gain from kiling of ex-land official

AN ongoing police investigation is now focusing on who might benefit from the suspicious death in custody of Tawatchai Anukul, a suspect in an illegal land-deeds case.

Tawatchai, 66, died while in custody of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on August 30, less than a day after he was arrested on charges of illegitimately issuing land title deeds worth about Bt10billion. 
Thung Song Hong police station superintendent Pol Colonel Mana Pohchuay yesterday said police had already come up with the list of persons who might have a motive to have Tawatchai killed. “But we can’t disclose details yet,” he said. 
It has been widely speculated since Tawatchai’s death that someone might have wanted to silence him before he could implicate accomplices or masterminds in the title-deeds scam.
The DSI initially said Tawatchai committed suicide by hanging himself with his socks from a door hinge inside a detention cell and that officials tried to save his life by taking him down and calling Mongkutwattana General Hospital for help. However, an autopsy concluded the cause of death was “abdominal haemorrhaging and a ruptured liver from being hit by a solid, blunt object”. 
In the meantime, the DSI has maintained a low profile and let police as well as a fact-finding panel set up by the Justice Ministry help determine exactly what happened. 
Police yesterday interviewed Wannachai Promrak, a deputy director at the DSI, for more than three hours to study details of the investigation into Tawatchai’s alleged wrongdoings. 
“Such information shows who will likely benefit from his death,” Mana said. 
He added that the investigation into Tawatchai’s death had progressed significantly, “but we will have to interview more persons, some for the second time”.
Mana said two senior DSI officials had yet to testify. “One of them says he has prior engagements while the other is on leave,” he said. 
Mongkutwattana General Hospital director Maj-General Dr Rienthong Nanna complained on his Facebook page that the DSI had never mentioned any attempted suicide when it called for medical help for Tawatchai. 
He also called for a full investigation into the cause of Tawatchai’s death, before any unclear information might mislead the public into believing that medical malpractice was a factor.
 “If there is a second autopsy on the body, I will join it,” Rienthong said. 

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