BANGKOK- For five years, Ernie Del Pinto has waited for justice for his murdered son Leo.Though it’s now closer than ever, the process has been excruciatingly slow for the grieving dad.
Leo was a 25-year-old backpacker when he was allegedly shot and killed by an off-duty Thai police officer while visiting the Asian country five years ago.
Finally, after years of delays in the case, the Del Pinto case went to trial in Thailand in 2012. The delays included the suspect’s release from prison — he went on to marry a pregnant 18-year-old woman and then murder her two weeks later.
Sgt. Uthai Dechachiwat pleaded not guilty to murdering Del Pinto and the attempted murder of Del Pinto’s friend Carly Reisig on Jan. 6, 2008. She was also shot but has recovered.Sergeant Uthai Dechawiwat had a life sentence reduced in half after he pleaded guilty. He admitted clubbing his wife Wanta to death last year at their home in Pai, Mae Song Province in northern Thailand. The body was discovered by his 10-yr-old daughter from a previous marriage.
Watching the slow wheels of justice turn from so far away has been frustrating for Ernie.
“I’m getting sick to my stomach about it,” he said.
He’s upset by the seemingly constant delays in the Thai justice system and just wants the case to wrap up.
He has a meeting in mid-January with Canada’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, to discuss the case and hopes the federal government can speed up the court proceedings.
Dechachiwat is already serving a 25-year sentence for clubbing his pregnant wife to death.
The Del Pinto trial saw a number of witnesses testify and is now on a break until March.
According to email summaries of the trial proceedings from Foreign Affairs sent to Ernie, a forensics expert testified that the fatal bullet entered Leo’s right cheek, crushed his larynx and stopped him from breathing. He was also shot in the stomach.
There was no gunpowder residue on the body.
Another forensic expert testified that the gun may have been fired from less than half a metre away from Leo’s hands because there are traces of residue on them.
As much as he’d like to see the proceedings in person, Ernie said he would not spend the money to go to Thailand when the court is ready with a verdict, given the frequent delays he’s experienced so far.
“It seems like every time I get to that step of sentencing, I get one step ahead and then five steps back.”
For the fifth anniversary of his son’s death, Ernie said he would attend mass and say a prayer for Leo.
For a case that could have wrapped up much sooner, he looks for a resolution in 2013.
“It’s not even done in five (years), now it’s going into the sixth,” he said.
“All I can add to this is: justice delayed is justice denied.”
Evidence In Canadian Murder Case Exposes Thai Police Cover Up
The Thai policeman who shot dead Canadian Leo Del Pinto in the northern Thai village of Pai in January shot downwards into his body on both occasions contrary to statements put out in police cover up. Read more……..