2 questioned in Pratamnak helipad attack

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Two men have been questioned for allegedly attacking an Eastern European couple during a romantic late-night cocktail on Pratamnak Hill.

Decha Phutkaew, 35, of Sriracha, and Piya Lasear, 28, of Chiang Mai, were apprehended shortly after the 1 a.m. Jan. 8 assault on Russian Nikita Salamatov, 26, and his 25-year-old Ukrainian wife Anastasia Dudnikova at the helipad in a park on Pratamnak Hill.

The two men, apprehended about 100 meters from the scene, denied attacking the couple, with Decha saying he was gay and on the hill to meet up with other men. Dudnikova said the men looked similar to her attacker, but were wearing different clothes.

The two men were released, but remain under suspicion, police said.

Assault victims Russian Nikita Salamatov and his Ukrainian wife Anastasia Dudnikova recall their ordeal to police.Assault victims Russian Nikita Salamatov and his Ukrainian wife Anastasia Dudnikova recall their ordeal to police.

Salamatov and Dudnikova had gone to the helipad for a romantic drink. At the scene, police found two glasses, a broken wine bottle and a flower vase at the scene. They used an overturned cement-mixing tub as a table.

Whilst drinking their wine, Dudnikova said two men appeared out of the darkness, one wielding a chain. Salamatov was struck in the head, opening a large gash near his ear that took 20 stitches to close. The thieves made off with 2,000 baht, $300 and a Nokia mobile phone.

Defense volunteers patrolling the area said they had seen the couple prior to the assault and warned them not to picnic there, due to possible danger from late-night hooligans. They said the couple insisted on staying, saying they’d only be a few minutes.