Bangkok (AP) – Police in Thailand have arrested eight suspects in the brutal killings of a local official and his family, attributing the crime to a financial dispute.
The shootings had attracted widespread attention because the dead included three children, with Thai newspapers carrying front-page banner headlines Monday on the arrests.
Deputy National Police Chief Chakthip Chaijinda announced Sunday in Krabi, the southern province where the killings occurred, that those arrested included the alleged ringleader, Surikfad Bannopwongsakul, a local businessman who had a dispute with the apparent main target, village headman Worayuth Sanglhung.
Violence connected to business disputes is not rare in Thailand. Chakthip said the killings came after a feud between the two men that resulted from Worayuth mortgaging land worth around 4 million baht ($118,519) to Surikfad, who refused to redeem the deeds when he was repaid. The two men had exchanged death threats, Chakthip said.
Three people survived the shootings, which took place July 10 when a group of men invaded Worayuth’s home and kept its residents captive until shooting them in the head. Police have said that one of the survivors provided key testimony for their investigation.
Chakthip said that Surikfad had sought to make the killings look like a murder-suicide by Worayuth. He said Surikfad had confessed to being the actual shooter, with the men who accompanied him having been hired with the understanding that they were working only to help collect a debt. He said they were paid 1,000 baht ($30) each.