SINGAPORE - The family of an IT consultant allegedly killed by a Norwegian man in Phuket remains confident the authorities in Thailand will ensure justice is served.
Roger Bullman, 53, skipped a court appearance on the popular resort island on Monday (Sept 2) and is said to be on the run.
He had allegedly killed British IT consultant Amitpal Singh Bajaj, 34, during a fight on Aug 21 while they were at the popular Centara Grand Beach Resort in Karon, Phuket.
Bullman was released on bail two weeks ago by the Phuket Provincial Court for 60,000 Norwegian kroner (S$9,100) after being charged with causing harm resulting in the death of Mr Amitpal, who was married to Singaporean Bandhna Kaur Bajaj, 34.
The Norwegian was due to reappear in court on Monday morning to assess his bail conditions.
In a statement to The Straits Times, a spokesman for Mr Amitpal in Singapore said the family was saddened to learn of the news that Bullman had failed to turn up in court.
“We have faith that the relevant authorities and agencies in Thailand will take all necessary measures to ensure justice and truth prevails,” the family said.
Several international news outlets reported that an arrest warrant has been issued by the Thai police for Bullman’s arrest.
Meanwhile, Mr Amitpal’s family in London had expressed anger and shock that Bullman was granted a hearing to assess his bail.
“We are bewildered as to why the authorities allowed a self-confessed killer to roam the streets of Phuket unguarded, where he could potentially pose a lethal threat to other innocent parties,” the family said.
“His disrespect for human life, and now his total disrespect for the courts and justice system in Thailand, should be more than sufficient grounds for revoking bail and holding him incarcerated until justice can be served,” the family added.
Earlier reports said Bullman had confessed to choking Mr Amitpal to death during a fight.
But he claimed he had applied a chokehold on the victim after the IT consultant stabbed him with a knife.
Bullman, who was found with a stab wound in the shoulder, reportedly had martial arts training and claimed when arrested that he did not intend to kill Mr Amitpal.
The incident happened in the victim’s room, which he shared with his wife and their 20-month-old son.
The family was awoken by loud noises, including a man’s raised voice and Bullman’s opera singing, from the adjacent room in the early hours. This continued until 4am.
In an earlier interview with ST, Ms Bandhna said a man then “barged into our room and just started charging at my husband”.
Bullman was last seen sunbathing and taking a swim at the Ikon Hotel in Phuket on Monday, after moving out from a guesthouse near Karon beach.
But he “vanished” from his room at the hotel without checking out, Thai news outlets reported.
British news outlet The Sun reported that Bullman’s lawyer Pawitra Laohaviroj appeared in court instead, and made an application for his bail to be renewed – despite the court requiring that he appear in person.
The application was rejected as he was not present, after which an arrest warrant was issued.
British tabloid MailOnline also reported that Ms Laohaviroj said Bullman “had not come to court as he felt ‘unsafe’ and that he wanted to be represented by a lawyer from his native Norway”.