Thai police trace body parts in river to Spaniard

A photo made available yesterday shows where some of the body parts were found in the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok on Jan 30.
A photo made available yesterday shows where some of the body parts were found in the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok on Jan 30.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Businessman likely kidnapped for ransom before being killed

BANGKOK • Thai police said multiple body parts found floating in Bangkok's main river belong to a Spanish businessman who was likely kidnapped for ransom before he was murdered.

The gruesome case has dominated Thai media coverage in recent days with television networks airing grim footage of officers hauling human appendages out of the city's Chao Phraya river.

The first body part was discovered on Sunday, with six additional finds since then at different locations along the river.

General Panya Maman, the officer leading the murder investigation, told reporters yesterday the victim was a Spanish businessman who entered Thailand from Iran on Jan 19.

"I am convinced that within next 48 hours this case will be resolved and that all perpetrators are foreign gangsters, although we suspect that some Thai nationals may have had knowledge (of the crime)," he said.

An official at the Spanish embassy said they had yet to receive confirmation of the victim's identity.

However, Thai newspaper Khao Sod reported that DNA tests found that the murdered man was Mr David Bernat, who is believed to be working as a telecommunications consultant in the Middle East.

Mr Bernat was last seen on Jan 20 leaving a Bangkok apartment on a motorcycle, reported Khao Sod. He had also been reported missing by his family in Spain after they could not reach him for some time, said the newspaper.

Gen Panya said the murder likely took place between Jan 25 and 27. Detectives are working on the theory that he was kidnapped before he was killed.

"Police have also detected that after his death they (his killers) transferred his money to several countries, including Singapore, Spain and within Thailand," Gen Panya said.

Investigators initially struggled to identify the victim.

Earlier in the week police said they believed the man was of Asian origin and suggested that Chinese triads might have been involved because of the method chosen to dispose of the body.

The wide Chao Phraya river winds its way through Bangkok, which boasts a large network of canals, and it is not unusual for bodies to be dumped in the waterways.

In another recent case involving the murder of a foreigner in Thailand, the body of an Australian former Hells Angels member was found bludgeoned and left in a woodland grave last month.

The man had been living in Pattaya for a month and was reportedly abducted at gunpoint by a group of masked men. A gang of foreign men was reported to be responsible for the murder. Two men - one Australian and one American - have been arrested so far.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2016, with the headline 'Thai police trace body parts in river to Spaniard'. Print Edition | Subscribe