Thai murder suspect tries to negotiate surrender

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The Independent Online

The Thai policeman accused of killing two British backpackers has again made contact with the police, raising the prospect of him trying to negotiate his surrender.

The Thai policeman accused of killing two British backpackers has again made contact with the police, raising the prospect of him trying to negotiate his surrender.

Sergeant Somchai Visetsingha has been on the run ever since Adam Lloyd and his girlfriend Vanessa Arscott were killed after an argument outside the police officer's restaurant in western Thailand on Thursday. More than 100 police officers, helped by the suspect's brother, are now searching for Sgt Visetsingha. On Friday night, he contacted a colleague for the second time by telephone, although the local force refused to disclose what he said.

Witnesses, many of whom are too scared to talk publicly because of Sgt Visetsingha's influence locally, claim the couple were killed after a heated argument with the officer. One said that Ms Arscott, from Ashburton, Devon, had stormed out of the S&S restaurant in Kanchanaburi - a town close to the famous bridge built by British POWs over the River Kwai - after an argument. Mr Lloyd, from Torquay, Devon, and Sgt Visetsingha then apparently tried to catch up with her in the policeman's BMW, before the two men themselves began arguing.

The Briton punched the policeman and swore at him, leading the officer to allegedly shoot Mr Lloyd three times, from his car. He was then seen to reverse the vehicle, catching Ms Arscott under it. Her body was dragged 150 metres back towards the restaurant, before he allegedly shot her.

Sgt Visetsingha's renewed contact with his pursuers will reinforce claims that the policeman is anxious to give himself up. In his first call, he is said to have tried to get agreement that he would be given bail if he surrendered - a suggestion rejected immediately by his police contact.

The suspect is thought to be trying to avoid being tried for murder, an offence that carries the death penalty in Thailand. The police hunt for him is being hampered, however, by the unwillingness of some witnesses to come forward for fear of reprisals. Six eyewitnesses are said to be unwilling to testify.

A police spokeswoman said the force was optimistic that it would apprehend him soon.

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