Military court orders arrest of a soldier in Mae Suai checkpoint shooting

The 37th Military Circle Court in Chiang Rai province has issued a warrant for the arrest of a private for alleged shooting death a driver at a traffic checkpoint in Mae Suai district of Chiang Rai on the night of Jan 2.

The arrest warrant for Pvt Wanchai Panya, 22, attached to the 17th Infantry Regiment was approved by the military court on Thursday (Jan 11) court after police charged him for murder, attempted murder, and shooting in public place.

Sornchai Sathitrakdamrong, 35, was shot dead as he was driving past a road checkpoint at Ban Mae Tam in Mae Suai district at about 8.30pm on Jan 2.

Sornchai, 35, was killed by mysterious bullets on Jan 2.

Earlier police arrested Wutthichai Inchan, an assistant village headman, for allegedly firing gunshot that killed Sornchai, a resident of Mae Suai. Mr Wutthichai denied shooting at Sornchai’s car but admitted that he fired warning shots into the air.

Forensic investigation later found that Sornchai died from a .223 believed to come from an M16 assault rifle, not a 9mm bullet from Mr Wutthichai’s gun.

Police investigation also revealed that two soldiers were among the 14 volunteers, village headman and assistants manning a traffic checkpoint at Mae Suai on the night of the shooting.

Pvt Wanchai was one of the two soldiers who allegedly carried an M16 assault rifle in duty at the checkpoint.