By THE NATION
Police took into custody Preecha Sak-udompaisal, an alleged influential figure in the Bang Sue area, after he surrendered at the Phya Thai Police Station. The 28-year-old owner of a snooker parlour was identified in CCTV footage as allegedly involved in the shooting and the court issued a warrant for his arrest.
Police continue to probe whether the shooting, which involved military weapons, stemmed from a conflict between two influential groups in Pratunam and Bang Sue. The spent cartridges collected from the scene are being inspected to see if they were fired from weapons used in other violent attacks, police said.
A police court said that in addition to Preecha, police investigators would seek arrest warrants for at least 10 suspects. The source said a police probe had identified the two groups of people involved in the shootout, with 19 people on Preecha’s side and seven people on the opposite side allegedly led by a wounded Thai victim, Pornthep Pumpuang, 23.
In the meantime, Ministry of Tourism and Sports permanent secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra said the foreign tourist assistance fund board had resolved to pay Bt1 million in compensation for the death of the Indian tourist. When combined with Bt1 million from the insurance firm, the deceased man’s family would get Bt2 million.
The board also agreed to pay for medical expenses beyond the limits covered under the insurance plans of the injured persons.
Tourist Police Bureau acting chief Pol Maj-General Thirapol Kuptanon presided over a ceremony at 1.30pm on Tuesday to present compensation to the relatives of the dead and the wounded at Rajavithi Hospital.
Basant Gakhreja, 45, the elder brother of the deceased victim Dheeraj Gakhreja, 41, joined the event. Speaking through an interpreter, he said that he understood this was an unfortunate event beyond anyone’s control. The grief-stricken brother thanked Thai authorities for arranging transportation of his younger brother’s body back to India on Monday evening for religious rites.
Thirapol said the insurance company agreed to pay Bt1 million to the deceased tourist’s relative within a week, while the Sports and Tourism Ministry’s Bt1-million compensation would be remitted to the bank account of the deceased tourist’s wife later in the evening. He said the injured tourists would each get up to Bt500,000 in medical bill coverage from the ministry’s foreign tourist assistance fund and up to Bt500,000 in medical bill coverage from the insurance company.
India is a key tourist market for Thailand with 1,411,942 Indians visiting the Kingdom last year, ranking them as the sixth largest group. That represented an increase of 18.2 per cent over 2016 and generated Bt62.4 billion.
The shooting happened at 8.30pm on Sunday at a snooker parlour in the car park of the Centara Watergate Pavilion Hotel in Ratchathewi district.
Several tourists were at the scene and tour coaches were parked nearby. The Indian man – who was part of an insurance company’s 100-strong group tour to Thailand from October 4-7 – was shot and later died in hospital. Those wounded were named as Dharmendra Sharma, a 45-year-old Indian co-worker of the deceased, Keovongsa Thonekeo, a 28-year-old Lao tourist, and two Thai men, Thaksin Suk-iad, 22, and Pornthep.