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Father and Mother of Slain 16 Year Old Live in Fear

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Murder - Chianrgrai Times

The parents of a murdered girl hill tribes have sought police protection after the man accused of his murder Mayor of Tambon was released on bail and a key witness in the case died mysteriously.

Sawat Sophonkerdsiri, Sophonkerdsiri Wanphen 48, 46, father and mother Sophonkerdsiri Thida, 16, the Lahu girl who was murdered and buried in a landfill in Muang district on April 23, yesterday asked to be placed under special police protection.

The victim’s parents said they and Nopphamat, Thida an older sister had been living in fear since 43 years old, Chit Chaikhan, the mayor of Tambon Bandu in Muang district, was released on bail.

Worse, Kittiphob Phalen, 46, who was a key witness in the case and had confessed to driving a backhoe to dig a hole in the dump to bury the body of Thida, died suddenly on Sunday, said the parents. The backhoe driver said he died of pneumonia, but since no one witnessed the illness or the death of otherwise healthy man, police are investigating the cause of death.

Ms. Nopphamat said aside from his family, the police also wanted to make sure that the other two key witnesses in the case are protected.

Mr. Chit allegedly had an intimate relationship with Thida. But police said they suspected he would find a new boyfriend, he killed her and buried her body in the old town landfill.

Mr. Chit was later arrested and charged with the premeditated murder of Thida and trying to hide his body.

Former Senator of Chiang Rai Tuenjai Deetes, who runs a foundation that works in community development in the highlands, yesterday led a team of lawyers to submit a letter to local police inquiring about the progress of the murder probe.

Writer: Theerawat Khamthita

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