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Pattaya Daily News

11 January 2008 :: 21:01:37 pm 12184

Suspect Re-Enacts Shooting Of 2 Canadians

PAI, THAILAND — In a bizarre crime re-enactment, police officials in northern Thailand gave murder suspect Uthai Dechawiwat a plastic revolver to demonstrate how he was defending himself when he fatally shot Leo John Del Pinto and wounded Carly Reisig last Sunday.
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Standing on the dusty road, in front of the Ting Tong reggae bar in the northern town of Pai, Mr. Dechawiwat acted out a struggle with two fellow officers, who were stand-ins for Mr. Del Pinto of Calgary and Ms. Reisig of Chilliwack, B.C., both 24 years old.

It was a clumsy affair and several of the officers laughed nervously while trying to re-enact the crime over a blood-stained section of the road. Mr. Dechawiwat was sweating profusely and appeared confused as officials ordered him to repeat several parts of the re-enactment.

It’s customary in Thailand to reconstruct the crime scene of high-profile cases for the media. In this instance, there were just two members of the international press present.

The officer maintains that the shootings were accidental and he was simply responding to a food vendor’s request to investigate a domestic disturbance she heard near her restaurant. Ms. Reisig says she was the victim of an unprovoked attack that began when she was punched in the face and ended with Mr. Del Pinto, who tried to defend her, shot dead in the street and her in hospital recovering from a bullet wound in the chest.

Owner Saijai Gawin, who operates the late-night Pea Dang eatery, said Mr. Dechawiwat was picking up a take-home food order at her roadside stand when the commotion occurred nearby.

Mr. Dechawiwat told Ms. Gawin he had just finished a police shift at a border post 40 kilometres away. However, bartender Jarupong Sintop, who was serving cocktails at the outdoor counter at the nearby Bebop bar, says he saw the officer drinking beer at the bar earlier in the evening.

“I saw the policeman come into the bar around 10 o’clock and he appeared drunk. He kept asking me the same questions over and over again so I told him I was busy and ignored him,” the 22-year-old explained.

Mr. Sintop finished work just before 1 a.m. and says he saw Mr. Dechawiwat again, this time drinking at the Don’t Cry bar where Mr. Sintop had gone for last call.

The bars are within walking distance of the Bebop, where Ms. Reisig and Mr. Del Pinto, a former boyfriend, last drank.

Many aspiring musicians and weekend jammers congregate at the lively roadhouse, including 19-year-old Matt Ward, who arrived in Thailand last October for a holiday.

The Winnipeg native remembers passing Mr. Del Pinto and Ms. Reisig on his way home. “I couldn’t believe in such a peaceful quiet, music-loving town like Pai, that something like this could happen.”

Many patrons of the Bebop, as well as the nearby bars, described Ms. Reisig as speaking loudly and in an aggressive manner. But as one expat Swedish musician, who didn’t give his name, commented, “Carly didn’t fit in here in Pai with her hostile attitude, but nobody deserves what happened to her and John.”

In contrast, Mr. Del Pinto was praised by most people in the community for his peaceful attitude and respect for the Thais. Guitarist Pu Ekkarat, who befriended Mr. Del Pinto just before the new year during a music session at the Bebop, was shocked by the news of the shooting.

“First of all, they should train the police how to control their temper and use their heart before they make any decisions,” the 33-year-old said. “Too often they use violence to stop a problem.”

Pai police chief Wanchai Suwansirikhet said he expects the investigation to be completed this month. Regarding criticism of excessive force used by Mr. Dechawiwat, the chief responded that he would have to wait until the forensic report is finished before commenting.

“We have temporarily transferred the suspect to work outside Pai district,” the chief said. “We don’t want his case to affect tourism in [the] area.”

However, after the crime re-enactment, the accused returned to the police headquarters about 30 metres away, where he is purportedly still working.

From Friday’s Globe and Mail
January 11, 2008 at 4:46 AM

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Crime News

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