Suspect in warder death was ‘freed days before’

August 21, 2012
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A Nakhon Si Thammarat prison warder was probably killed by a former prisoner who was freed on Aug 12, according to a provincial police chief.

The suspected hitman is one of the subordinates of a prisoner in Nakhon Si Thammarat prison.

The suspected gunman was granted a royal pardon and was freed on Aug 12, said Pol Maj Gen Ronnapong Saikaew, chief of Nakhon Si Thammarat police.

Od Sae Pua, the late warder, had seized “ice”, otherwise known as crystal methamphetamine which was sent into the provincial prison on July 30. He reported it to the prison governor on Aug 16.

The 49-year-old man was shot dead outside the prison two days later.

Police say people behind the drugs deal might have offered Od a bribe.

Od probably refused and was finally killed, Pol Maj Gen Ronnapong said.

Police have checked recordings of surveillance cameras at the prison, questioned witnesses and talked to the prison governor as they investigate the warder’s murder.

Od was shot dead while riding his motorcycle in Phra Phom district of Nakhon Si Thammarat on Saturday morning.

Police believe the gunman is a follower of one of 20 major drug convicts at the Nakhon Si Thammarat prison.

Pol Maj Gen Ronnapong said Od had been among a handful of warders who dared to inform police of drug trafficking at the Nakhon Si Thammarat prison.

The provincial police chief also said that many networks of wrongdoers trafficked drugs at the prison, running illicit businesses worth 1 billion baht.

Suppression was difficult because some officials at the prison also were involved.

Sophon Thitithammaphruek, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, said Od worked as an employee of the prison’s hospital and checked medicines that relatives sent to inmates there. As authorities tried to block the illegal supply of mobile phones and narcotics to inmates, Od was approached and offered 200,000 baht to turn a blind eye. He rejected the bribe and informed the prison governor.

On July 30, Od found 6.2 grammes of “ice” in two antifungal drug tubes that a relative tried to send to a blacklisted inmate. Mr Sophon said Od told police to take legal action against the relative.

Mr Sophon and Nakhon Si Thammarat prison governor Surapol Kaewparadai have now agreed to move about 20 inmates from the Nakhon Si Thammarat prison to the Khao Bin maximum security prison in Ratchaburi province to tackle drug trafficking at the Nakhon Si Thammarat prison.

Border patrol police would be asked to keep up their guard at Nakhon Si Thammarat prison, to stop people throwing drugs and mobile phones over the walls into the prison.