Political motive, personal conflict seen as top motives behind Kamol's murder
Police should be able to come to an initial conclusion today into the motive behind the Wednesday murder of red-shirt poet and anti-lese majeste law activist Kamol Duangphasuk, better known by his pen name “Mainueng Kor Kuntee”, deputy Bangkok police chief Pol Maj-General Thitirat Nonghanpitak said yesterday.
Police are interviewing the victim’s family and friends and studying surveillance camera footage as part of an investigation involving detectives from various units, the officer said. Political motives and personal conflicts remain the key theories, he added.
Pol Lt-Colonel Naren Kruangsanook from Chok Chai Police Station added that business conflicts and “love” were also possible motives, as Kamol was a known flirt.
Police also noted that the day the poet was killed, he was scheduled to meet an acquaintance to sign a contract to set up a new red-shirt radio station in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement yesterday calling on police to quickly solve the murder case.
Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in the statement: “The brutal and outrageous killing of poet and red-shirt activist Kamol can only worsen the already tense political situation in Thailand.
“Thai authorities need to quickly investigate this murder and bring whoever is responsible to justice – wherever that investigation leads.”
Noting Kamol’s role as an anti-lese majeste law activist, Adams went on to say: “Kamol’s murder heightens the climate of fear felt by those who speak out against Thailand’s draconian lese majeste law. The Thai authorities need to find Kamol’s killer, and also urgently move to amend the law prohibiting criticism of the monarchy, and permit an environment in which all topics are open to discussion.”
Police said yesterday that they have interviewed nine people and were looking into images captured on CCTV to try and identify the gunman, who fled on a motorcycle after firing six shots in Kamol’s direction. The victim, who was hit in the chest by two bullets, was in the car park near a restaurant in Bangkok’s Lat Phrao district that he frequently patronised.
Police said the murder, which took place in broad daylight, was obviously well-planned and well executed.
Kamol was pronounced dead after shortly arriving at a nearby hospital.
Meanwhile, convicted and fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra has reportedly warned his red-shirt supporters to be careful, especially since many members of the red-shirt movement believe Kamol’s murder was politically motivated and particularly related to the late poet’s role as a prominent anti-lese majeste law campaigner. Kamol, whose supporters have been posting poems in his memory on social media, was laid to rest at Wat Samian Nari Temple in Bangkok’s Lak Si area yesterday.
Separately, police are also looking into the discovery of a hand grenade that was tied onto the gate of a house in Bangkok along with a whistle and a ribbon in the colours of the Thai national flag.
While such ribbons and whistles are widely associated with the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), police have yet to decide if the bomb threat is politically motivated.
The house in question has been empty for several months and the last occupant was a Filipino tenant, who worked at an international school.
House owner Yos Poonsawas said the unit in Bangkok’s Min Buri district has been up for rent and that he had not lived there for 13 years.
“We will have to question more witnesses and gather more evidence,” Min Buri Police Station’s superintendent Kanchon Intararam said yesterday.
He believes the bomb might have been planted there just as a threat.
According to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit chief Pol Colonel Kamthorn Ouicharoen, the grenade found at the house yesterday was of the RGD 5 sort and could still be used.
“But its safety pin was not removed,” he said, adding that this type of bomb had exploded at a PDRC march and at a PDRC rally site in Bangkok earlier this year.
“No Thai authorities have such a grenade, but the RGD 5 can easily be bought in the black market along border zones,” Kamthorn said.