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Sunday, 13 January 2008

Canadian tourist shot dead

A Canadian tourist was shot dead and his wife wounded early yesterday morning near a pub in Mae Hong Son province after a scuffle with a policeman.
Pol Sgt-Major Uthai Dechawiwat claimed shots were fired accidentally after the foreign couple tried to snatch his pistol from him. Policeman faces murder charge after scuffle with drunk couple
The 37-year-old policeman, who was released on bail after being charged with murder and manslaughter, said he had struggled to get his service pistol back from John Leo Del Pinto and his wife Carly Reisig.
He said he had used the gun to threaten them when he was down on the ground after the couple beat him up.
Del Pinto, 25, took a shot in the mouth, from which the bullet travelled through his shoulder, and another shot on the left side of his torso, while Reisig, 24, was shot on the left side of her torso.
Uthai initially fled but give himself up to Pai police not long afterwards.
Quoting witnesses, case investigator Pol Lt-Colonel Sombat Panya said the couple had been drinking in a local pub called Ting Tong. They became involved in a drunken brawl after Del Pinto, who recently arrived in Thailand, found out that Reisig had become pregnant with a Thai man known as Fuen.
The couple continued arguing after they left the pub when Uthai arrived at the scene, near a bridge, on personal business. Uthai approached them and asked them to be calm but both foreigners turned to attack him.
The officer said Uthai was beaten to the ground by the couple. After managing to get up, Uthai pointed his service pistol to threaten away both foreigners, but Del Pinto tried to snatch the pistol from him. After a scuffle, shots were fired and the couple went down.
Del Pinto died at the scene at about 2am and Reisig was sent to a hospital in Chaing Mai, where she is in a safe condition.
Sombat said he had not interviewed Reisig about what happened and no offence had yet been filed against her.
Thai policeman shot dead a Canadian tourist and wounded his pregnant ex-wife during a scuffle outside a bar, authorities said today.
John Leo Del Pinto, 25, died after being shot in the face and torso while Carly Reisig, also from Canada, was taken to hospital with a bullet wound.
Colonel Sombat Panya, of Pai district police in northern Mae Hong Son, said the officer involved claimed the shooting was an accident.
But he revealed Sergeant Uthai Dechawiwat had since been charged with premeditated murder and released on bail.
Del Pinto and Reisig, who rented a home in the town of Mae Hong Son, were drinking at a bar in Pai on Saturday night.
Witness described how the pair began arguing after Del Pinto learned that Reisig had become pregnant with a Thai man, Sombat said.
Outside the bar the argument turned physical, and when Uthai tried to intervene the couple attacked him, officials said.
The police officer told investigators that Del Pinto had tried to grab his pistol and the gun "accidentally went off" three times.
"The policeman, who is about 1.6m tall, was beaten to the ground by the man, a bodybuilder, and the hippy woman," said the local police chief, Wanchai Suwanririkate.
Del Pinto, a frequent visitor to Pai, died at the scene, while Reisig was rushed to hospital in the nearby province of Chiang Mai. One of the bullets grazed her upper left torso but her foetus was unharmed, Sombat said.
Uthai was charged with premeditated murder for Del Pinto's death, and with "intent to kill" in connection with Reisig, Sombat added.
A spokesman for the Canadian embassy in Bangkok was not available for comment. It is not known where in Canada the couple were from. Where it is at the end of a spectacular three-hour mountain drive lies the bohemian backpacker town of Pai. Located in the remote mountains of the North, it’s one of the least accessible tourist towns in the country, but that doesn’t stop the place filling up over the busy season.


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