Park official suspended from duty pending murder probe

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation today suspended a park official at Salak Phra wildlife conservation in Kanchanaburi province from duty pending investigation into the death of a director of a health hospital yesterday.

The suspension of Mr Songvuth Udom was signed by the department’s director-general Thanya Netithammakul.

Songvuth turned himself to Narin Songnitikul, Srisawat district chief officer for shooting to death Mr Chalit Jintana, the director of Plai Na Suan health hospital while he was driving in a pickup truck yesterday.

He claimed upon surrendering to the district officer with his service HK-33 assault rifle that he shot at the pickup truck over misunderstanding that it was the vehicle of smugglers.

The shooting happened at about 6.45 pm in Srisawat district yesterday.

But autopsy of the dead hospital director showed he was shot on the right arm and there was sign on his face indicating he was beaten before he died.

Initial investigation suggested he was murdered rather than shooting by misunderstanding as the park official claimed.

Instead interrogation revealed personal conflict was the motive of the the shooting.

Mr Thanya said that he would order all 16 wildlife conservation offices to strictly control the distribution of service assault rifles for daily patrol use with instruction all weapons must be returned after completing the patrols.