CRIME DEATH OF CANADIAN TOURIST
Policeman faces murder charge
Chiang Mai _ A policeman who shot dead a Canadian tourist and wounded his girlfriend in Mae Hong Son's Pai district was yesterday charged with premeditated murder and attempted murder. Pol Sgt-Maj Uthai Dechawiwat was released on bail, said the chief of the Provincial Police Region 5, Pol Lt-Gen Theerasak Chookitkhun.
The shooting occurred on Sunday when Pol Sgt-Maj Uthai tried to break up an argument between the couple, Leo John Del Pinto and Carly Reisig, outside a restaurant after the man accused his girlfriend of having an affair with a Thai man.
The off-duty police officer said he was asked by the restaurant owner to help stop the argument.
Pol Sgt-Maj Uthai fled into hiding before turning himself in yesterday to fight the charges in court. He maintained it was an accident, telling investigators he was attacked during the scuffle and drew his gun to fire a warning shot.
He claimed the tourists tried to snatch the weapon from him and it accidentally went off. Del Pinto was hit twice and his girlfriend once. She was rushed to a hospital in Chiang Mai and treated for a wound to the right hip. Pol Lt-Gen Theerasak said Ms Reisig was still in shock and not ready for questioning.
No order to suspend Pol Sgt-Maj Uthai from work has been issued so far.