Police investigating the death of a contractor, Sornchai Sithiitrakthamrongat, at a road checkpoint in Mae Suai district of Chiang Rai on the night of January 2, now suspected the victim might be shot by a soldier.
This was based on the result of the forensic autopsy which found a .223 bullet on his head.
Normally the .223 cartridge is used for assault rifle such as M16 carried by soldiers.
On the night of the shooting, investigation showed two soldiers also joined volunteers and village headmen checking vehicles passing the checkpoint.
Earlier police arrested Wutthichai Injai, the assistant village head of Ban Pa Hiang, after he was identified as a person who fired at the vehicle and killed the driver when he refused to stop for search.
But the assistant denied shooting at the vehicle, reasoning that he just fired into the air.
He was released on bail by Chiang Rai provincial court on Jan 9.
The victim’s family and friends and residents were unsatisfied with the investigation and arrest of only one person, suspecting more people might be involved in the shooting.
They called for justice from the deputy commissioner of the Royal Thai Police Pol Gen Srivara Rangsibhramanakul who went to supervise the shooting by himself.
Further investigation after the autopsy result of the shot wound on his head showed it was from a .223 bullet, not a 9mm bullet fired from the handgun of the assistant, found two soldiers were at the checkpoint and they carried M16 assault rifles.
The finfing prompted the police now to believe one of them fired the fatal shot that killed the contractor.
There was a press report that the two soldiers have reported to the Third Army commander but it’s spokesman Col Krit Khantasa denied such report.
Earlier the police inquiry officers in charge of the case agreed to slap an additional charge against Wutthichai because the dead victim’s girifriend, Ms Sirirat Yaepieng, was travelling in the same car but escaped the bullets.