Thaksin 'not involved in Akeyuth murder'

BANGKOK - Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has nothing to do with the murder of businessman Akeyuth Anchanbutr and the latest allegation against him is politically motivated, the former PM's legal adviser Noppadon Pattama said yesterday.

Noppadon also said Thaksin's legal team would take legal action against Akeyuth's lawyer, Suwat Apaipak, who on Friday told a press conference that a person close to the former prime minister had hired Akeyuth's driver Santiparb Pengduang to arrange his murder in June.

"That was a lie and slander that is based on pure imagination," Noppadon said.

"It is aimed at making people believe Thaksin was behind Akeyuth's murder. The lie is meant to cause political impacts," he added.

Suwat is close to the People's Alliance for Democracy, which is regarded as a political adversary of Thaksin. Akeyuth was a staunch critic of Thaksin and the government.

Noppadon yesterday denied Suwat's claim that businessman Somchai Jitpreedakorn, who was referred to as Santiparb's former employer, was close to Thaksin. "Thaksin knows numerous people and Somchai is not close to him.

"Thaksin has never ordered or asked him to have Akeyuth killed," Noppadon said.

He added that he saw no reason why Somchai would want Akeyuth killed. Thalsin's legal adviser also said that he had learned that Somchai also would take legal action against Suwat.

Suwat, at his press conference on Friday, also said a hard-disk that stored footage from a surveillance camera, with images linked to Akeyuth's abduction, was not destroyed, as claimed earlier by the self-proclaimed murderer Santiparb. The hard-disk is still intact and hidden, Suwat said.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Pol Lt-General Camronvit Toopkrajank yesterday asked Suwat to provide police investigators information and evidence to support his claim. He said the driver, now in detention, had confessed to police that he had killed Akeyuth and had not changed his confession.

Camronvit said that police were dealing with the Akeyuth case in a straightforward manner, based on the evidence available.

Somchai, accompanied by his lawyer, met Camronvit yesterday to deny any involvement with Akeyuth's murder. He said that he had just returned from an overseas trip on Friday night when he learned about Suwat's allegation against him.

The businessman said he did not know Santiparb personally, but Akeyuth's driver had worked at his company for about a month before resigning.

Somchai also insisted that he was not close to Thaksin and did not know him personally. "We just met at business functions," he added.

Police Maj-General Anuchai Lekbamrung, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police who is leading the team probing Akeyuth's murder, yesterday asked Suwat to hand over his information and evidence to the investigators.

He said that people suspected to be involved or alleged to be involved in the murder would all be summoned by police for questioning.