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Family appeals against death penalty over Italian slaying in Phuket

PHUKET: An Italian Senator has appealed to the Government of Thailand to stave off the death penalty for Denis Cavatassi, who stands convicted of hiring a killer to murder his business partner, Luciano Butti, in Phuket in 2011.

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By The Phuket News

Wednesday 7 February 2018, 05:54PM


Cavatassi was convicted and condemned to death by the Supreme Court of Thailand but has always maintained his innocence, reports The Italian Insider.

In response, a press conference was called on Tuesday (Feb 6), headed by Senator Luigi Manconi, President of the Commission for the Protection of Human Rights, to call for Cavatssi’s sentence to be annulled, said the report. (See story here.)

Also present at the press conference on Tuesday were Cavatassi’s family, his legal team and the head of Amnesty International in Italy.

Butti and Cavatassi managed the Ciao Bella restaurant together on Phi Phi Island. Police believe the murder was motivated by B9 million that Mr Butti had supposedly embezzled from the business the two owned.

Cavatassi, however, has maintained his innocence.

“Cavatassi was arrested in 2011 alongside three others but released soon afterwards on caution. The family have always argued that the accused could have fled the country at this point,” noted the Italian Insider report.

“He was arrested again following allegations from a Thai manager at his restaurant that he had boasted of large sums of money owed between the two partners. Cavatassi maintains that he has never received a fair trial,” the report added.

Mr Butti was shot dead while riding his motorbike from Pa Khlok to Phuket Town at about 10pm on March 15.

His body was discovered 200 metres from the entrance to the Bang Pae Waterfall.

Just five days later, on March 20, police had arrested Cavatassi and three others: Prasong Yongkit, Somchai Kasuk and Ratchanon Sawaree, all Thai.

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At that press conference, police said that Cavatassi had told them that Mr Butti had embezzled B9 million from the business.

Failing to get the money back, police allege, Cavatassi then paid B150,000 to Prasong, who had worked in the restaurant for nine years, to organise to have Mr Butti killed. (See story here.)

Prasong told the press conference that Mr Butti was an unpleasant boss, had cheated many people, and was “ruining” Thailand.

Prasong contacted Polawat Jongrak to arrange the hit. He in turn hired four others – Suchat and Eakachai Nimlaor, Ratchanon and Somchai Kasuk.

But by September that year the alleged gunman Suchat Nimlaor and his supposed driver Eakachai Nimlaor had yet to be apprehended, and at last report remain at large. (See story here.)

Campaign groups such as Amnesty International have long campaigned for the death penalty to be abolished in Thailand and estimate that around 450 convicts are on death row in the country, the Italian Insider noted.

However, Thai authorities have been observing a de facto moratorium on the penalty since 2009, when the last prisoner was executed, it added.

The Phuket News notes that the Thai judiciary usually commutes death penalty sentences to life imprisonment if the accused pleads guilty to the charges against him.

This apparently has not happened in Cavatassi’s case.

The Phuket News also notes that it has yet to be confirmed whether Cavatassi’s legal team have exhausted all forms of appeal against the death sentence.

 

 

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