BANGKOK (BERNAMA) - The alleged mastermind of a brutal murder in the Taman Pelangi area of Johor Baru last December proclaimed innocence when a team of policemen cornered him last Wednesday (May 30) in Thailand's northeastern Chaiyaphum province.
The arrest of the 36-year-old Malaysian along with his wife at a house in the compound of a temple in the province brought an end to the manhunt mounted by the Malaysian and Thai police to arrest one of the most wanted men in Malaysia.
"When the Thai policemen confronted him, he (the alleged mastermind) pleaded innocence and tried in vain to wriggle out of the impending arrest," a source who had intimate knowledge of the operation to nab the wanted Malaysian told Bernama in Bangkok.
Speaking in Thai, the Johor-born suspect, who sported a large tattoo of Jesus Christ on his right arm, claimed he was nowhere near the murder scene on the night of Dec 17 last year, when the murder occurred, he said.
The man also claimed to be in possession of relevant documents to back up his alibi, said the source, who declined identification.
Despite the suspect's best attempts to win his freedom, the policemen were not convinced and swiftly took the wanted Malaysian and his wife into custody, he added.
On Dec 17, a suspected triad member known as Ah Chiu was repeatedly stabbed before he was mowed down by a man driving a white BMW car at a petrol station located in Taman Pelangi, Johor Baru.
The murder was also caught on closed-circuit television camera and became viral on social media.
Since the murder, the Royal Malaysia Police has arrested several individuals for questioning, and in January this year, charged two suspects for the crime.
Since escaping to Thailand last December, the tattooed Malaysian suspect appeared to have turned over a new leaf by embracing a spiritual life and becoming a Buddhist monk at the temple, according to the source.
However, he claimed that the man s recent conversation to Buddhism was probably a ruse to conceal his past.
Meanwhile, another source told Bernama the alleged mastermind maintained his innocence by saying he did not have a reason to kill the victim.
"He (alleged mastermind) claimed that the man owed him about RM140,000, so there was no reason for him to see him dead," he said.
The suspect and his wife are awaiting extradition to Malaysia.
Despite the arrest of the alleged mastermind, Bernama was made to understand the Thai police are continuing their search for another Malaysian suspect linked to the Taman Pelangi murder case.
The man, who is married to a Thai woman, was believed to have fled to Thailand to escape prosecution by the Malaysian authorities.