MAE HONG SON – Royal Thai Police have arrested Sawet Manotham aka Pandu Lukratchawang a former boxer accused of punching a 40-year-old woman to death and then setting her body on fire over a 90,000 baht opium debt in Mae Hong Son Province.
Sawet Manotham, 32, was apprehended at his house on Wednesday in the northern province of Mae Hong Son on charges of colluding in the murder of Saengkham Suddaenklai and setting fire to her body to destroy evidence, Pol Maj Gen Pracha Rattanaphan, deputy chief of Provincial Police Region 5, said during a police press conference.
The former boxer, who fought as Pandu Lukratchawang and now earns his living selling fruit, confessed he had punched Saengkham to death in a fit of anger because the woman had failed to pay him 90,000 baht she owed for opium she bought from him, The Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday.
He had asked the woman to meet him near Huay Mae Tho to settle the debt on April 18. When the woman arrived on a motorcycle, he asked her to accompany him in his pickup truck to tambon Muang Pon of Khun Yuam district. He also loaded her motorcycle on his vehicle. A Myanmar friend, identified only as Toon, accompanied him.
According to police, Sawet asked Saengkham about the opium debt, but she kept refusing to pay, Sawet lost his temper, punching her in the face until she fell down dead.
He asked Toon to use a blanket to cover her and then set her body on fire. He sold her motorcycle to cover part of the debt she owed him, he told police.
He said he had sold opium to Saengkham for four years, as a sideline to selling fruit.
Pol Maj Gen Pracha said the discovery of the burned body was reported on April 23. It was later identified as the remains of Saengkham, who had been missing from her house in Mae La Noi district for several days.
An investigation led to the arrest of Mr Sawet, he said.
Daily News Online quoted the suspect as admitting he had smuggled opium from Myanmar for sale. The woman had bought seven lumps of opium from him for 13,000 baht each, and then refused to pay him as promised.
He said he had asked her several times for the money because he needed it to pay his supplier across the border.