BANGKOK (AFP) - A Spanish man was sentenced to death by a Thai court on Friday (April 21) for the grisly murder of a fellow Spaniard whose dismembered body parts were discovered in Bangkok's main river last year.
Artur Segarra, 38, was convicted of kidnapping and killing David Bernat in an effort to steal tens of millions of baht from the businessman, according to the verdict read out by a judge at the Bangkok criminal court.
"Forensic evidence such as blood stains and fingerprints on (Segarra's) electric grinder had DNA that matched the victim," the judge said, adding that CCTV footage and testimony from Segarra's maid and girlfriend also implicated him in the killing.
Police believe Segarra held Bernat in his Bangkok apartment for several days and tried to extort him for money before murdering the 40-year-old and dumping his chopped up body parts in the Chao Praya river.
Segarra, who had denied all the charges, appeared calm while the verdict was read and translated to him in Spanish.
When he arrived at court he held his hand up to show the the Bible citation "Luke 23:34" written in ink on his palm - a reference to some of crucified Jesus's final words: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
While death sentences are still on the statute books in Thailand, it is rare for prisoners to be executed. The last execution was in 2009.
Segarra's lawyer, Jessada Piyasuwanvanich, told reporters his client would likely file an appeal and "fight the case to the end".
The macabre murder came to light last January after Thai police began retrieving body parts from different locations along the city's Chao Praya River. It took them several days to identify the victim.
Segarra fled to Cambodia after the killing but was arrested and returned to Bangkok a few weeks later.
It is not uncommon for foreigners to get swept up in Thailand's sprawling criminal underworld.
Earlier this month, an Australian man was sentenced to death for the murder of a former Hells Angels member found beaten and naked in a shallow grave in Pattaya, a popular Thai beach town known for its raunchy nightlife and links to organised crime.
In September, Thai police arrested three Americans in Bangkok after discovering the frozen body parts of another foreigner inside their freezer.
The men were charged with multiple offences and are being held in prison while they await trial.