Key witness to give testimony in missing Saudi case
The court case over the 1989 disappearance of Saudi Arabia businessman Mohammad al-Ruwaili took a new turn yesterday as the Criminal Court granted public prosecutors permission to seek the testimony of a key witness based outside Thailand.Public prosecutors said United Arab of Emirates-based Kiattikorn Kaewphalue (known formerly as Pol Lt-Colonel Suwitchai Kaewphalue) possesses knowledge about a gold ring worn by al-Ruwaili, which led to the reopening of the case and the current trial involving five policemen suspected of having been behind the disappearance of al-Ruwaili.
Pol Lt-General Somkhid Bunthanom, standing trial in connection with al-Ruwaili's disappearance, accused public prosecutors, police investigators and Department of Special Investigation agents of taking Kiattikorn out of the country illegally, after immigration officers detected his plan for blacklisted overseas travel.
The court finally permitted the testimony, saying that it would not put the five defendants, including Somkhid, at a disadvantage.
Somkhid said those he accuses later altered Kiattikorn's travel plans and paid Bt115,600 in air tickets for his new flights. The retired officer also alleged that Kiattikorn, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2009, had earlier been hidden in Thailand but police made no efforts to locate him.
Somkhid threatened to take criminal action against the individuals representing the three accused agencies.
Chief prosecutor Kowit Sriphairoj said Kiattikorn had earlier been excluded as a state witness because of his seeming disappearance, but a request for his testimony was made to the court following a special request by Saudi Arabia authorities. Kowit dismissed as untrue Somkhid's allegation about public prosecutors helping to hide Kiattichai and take him out of the country.