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Accused Killers Oppose Trial in Victoria Australia



Sarud Seehaverachart, 28 (left) and Thatiya Terdputham, 36, (centre) shuffle into a Bangkok court wearing ankle chains.



TWO Thai men facing extradition to Melbourne over the murder of ‘‘good Samaritan” Luke Mitchell claim they are innocent and the real killer is the son of a mafia figure in Thailand who has not been arrested.

”We did not do it … the one who did is still on the run,” Thatiya Terdputham, 36, said as he shuffled out of a Bangkok court wearing ankle chains.

Asked whether the man they were accusing was the son of a crime boss in Thailand, Thatiya said: ”So you know that.”

Thatiya said he and 28-year-old student Sarud Seehaverachart, who are fighting the extradition, want to apologise to the family of Mr Mitchell, a Sanctuary Lakes chef who was stabbed outside a Brunswick convenience store on May 24, 2009. ”We didn’t know it was going to happen … we are really sorry,” Thatiya said.

Mr Mitchell was repeatedly stabbed after he went to break up a fight outside a nightclub.

Australian police said three Thai nationals fled Australia after the fatal stabbing. Only Thatiya and Sarud have been arrested over the alleged murder. Sarud, who was studying in Melbourne at the time of Mr Mitchell’s death, told Bangkok’s Ratchada Criminal Court yesterday that he wanted the charge against him heard in Thailand because he would not get a fair hearing in Melbourne, where many people are ”racist” and he would be held in a substandard prison.

Sarud said he had been the target of racist bullying in Melbourne. Asked by his lawyer how he reacted to the bullying, he said: ”I kept a low profile.”

Human rights activist Sophan Tatichotiphan told the court that extraditing the men to Australia would violate their human rights as Thai citizens.

Mr Sophan, the director of an independent human rights group, also referred to reports that Melbourne was a racist city and argued the men should face any charge in Thailand.

Wearing orange prison clothes, Thatiya and Sarud smiled and appeared relaxed as they spoke with family and lawyers at the court before being taken back to prison.

Family members said the men had never before been in trouble with the law.

Thatiya was detained at Bangkok’s international airport in October last year, while Sarud was arrested at a restaurant in Phuket a month earlier.

The Bangkok judges adjourned the hearing and gave all parties 30 days to lodge further documents. Officials from the Australian embassy in Bangkok attended the hearing. The judges’ verdict is expected by the end of the year.

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