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Lawyer may hold key to motive of Sunattee killing

Well-known businesswoman Sunattee Nerngchamnong was facing more than 30 lawsuits, which could have been the motive behind her murder on Sunday night, police said yesterday.

Investigators said they would have liked more information from Sunattee's lawyer, who remains unidentified, because she told him "almost everything about her real-estate business".

However, the lawyer "seemed to be holding something back" in his statements to them, they said.

Udomsuk police and detectives from Metropolitan Police Division 4 are working together to solve the murder, which they believe probably stemmed from her many business conflicts. Sunattee had earlier filed a complaint with Ratchathewa police about a death threat she had received, but no other details about this were available. A police source said Sunattee's relatives believe the murder was motivated by her business conflicts and said 23 lawsuits had been filed against her.

 They added that Sunattee had filed a few civil lawsuits of her own against two or three individuals.

Metropolitan Police Division 4 commander Maj-General Somwut Wannaphirun said police found a hammock tied to trees 200 metres from Sunattee's home in a housing estate off Soi 11 of Sukhaphibal II Road. He said it was possible two men who had been using the hammock for two weeks before the murder were the gunman and the getaway motorcycle driver.

Police found a cigarette, an empty cigarette pack and a newspaper dated November 17 nearby. The two men who were using the hammock never showed up after the murder. Police believe the gunman was a professional, judging from the calm manner in which he approached her car and fired three shots into her chest before fleeing on a waiting motorcycle.

An autopsy report said one bullet pierced her heart and two others lodged in her chest and near her right collarbone.

The bullets were of .38 calibre and fired from an unknown type of handgun. A crime-scene investigation, a trajectory study and other enactments are being prepared.

Sunattee's husband, Pol Maj-General Piyachart, told police he knew little about any conflicts she might have had in her real-estate business or personal matters.

Royal Thai Police spokesman Lt-General Pongsapat Pongcha-roen said PM Abhisit Vejjajiva had ordered police to take special care of the case.

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