‘Ae Inside’ murder: hitman’s driver arrested
PHUKET: Police have arrested a man they believe was the driver of the motorbike carrying the gunman who shot dead Phuket journalist Wisut “Ae Inside” Tangwittayaporn, 44, in Phuket City on Thursday (January 12).
Monday 16 January 2012, 04:25PM
They identified the driver as Noppadon “Pae” Praisri, 41, from Petchburi Province. He was arrested at his house in Cha’am yesterday and was immediately flown to Phuket by helicopter, and taken straight into a press conference.
Police believe that the arrest of Noppadon will lead them to the person who paid him and the gunman to kill Mr Wisut.
They homed in on Noppadon after finding the bike he used for the murder abandoned in a lagoon at Soi Tantalum, behind Super Cheap in Rassada District.
The number of the license plate corresponded with witnesses’ statements. The bike had originally been white and orange, but had been part-camouflaged with brown paint.
Police discovered that before the murder the bike was rented by Noppadon, without paperwork, from its Patong-based owner.
Noppadon, they said, knew the owner from when he had worked in the Patong area as a fruit vendor 10 years ago.
Noppadon left Phuket several years ago and, most recently, made a living operating a mini-bus service between Cha’am and Bangkok.
Police said this afternoon that Noppadon had admitted that he and the gunman, whom he named as Sanya Klinchum, were hired for the killing by a man named “Boy”, who paid him B50,000 for his part in the job.
At the press conference, however, Noppadon denied any part in the murder and added, “I want justice. I will give my statement in the court only. I did not know [Mr Wisut] and I was not involved in the murder process.”
After the press conference police showed some reporters a confession allegedly signed by Noppadon, and admitting to his role in the killing.
Police also said they had a record of Noppadon being charged with attempted murder using a gun “in the past”, but they gave no further details.
Police are now questioning Noppadon for information about Sanya, Boy and the paymaster.
Mr Wisut was shot dead on Thursday while driving his car. His wife was in the passenger seat.
The gunman fired four bullets. Three hit Mr Wisut in the right shoulder, in the chest and in the throat, causing his death shortly afterwards in Vachira Hospital.
Police believe several issues may have motivated Mr Wisut’s murder, because he had written about many controversial issues in a way that would not have pleased some influential people.