Thu, Nov 11, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Self-confessed killer of tourist pair released on bail

AP , BANGKOK

A Thai court has released on bail a policeman accused of gunning down a young British couple two months ago, sparking fears that he might try to intimidate witnesses, a public prosecutor said yesterday.

Sergeant Somchai Visetsingha is accused of the Sept. 9 slayings of Vanessa Arscott, 24, and Adam Lloyd, 25. He was freed Nov. 2 on an unspecified amount of bail by a provincial court in Kanchanaburi, said chief public prosecutor Pichet Kasetsin.

The Nation newspaper reported yesterday that the judge set bail at 1 million baht (US$24,590). Pichet said Somchai must appear in court tomorrow.

Somchai eluded a massive manhunt for nearly a month, but admitted to the killings after surrendering to police on Oct. 7.

"The prosecution is concerned that the suspect, who faces a severe punishment if the court finds him guilty, might use his influence to harass the witnesses or make them change their statements," Pichet said.

Details about the witnesses were unavailable, but The Nation reported that most of the 16 bystanders were reluctant to sign statements against Somchai.

His trial had been delayed after he petitioned the court to change the charges against him to killing out of anger and self-defense.

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