January 11, 2008 / 12:26 AM / 10 years ago

Thai cop on duty despite charge of killing Canadian

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai policeman has been transferred to another station after being charged with killing a Canadian and attempting to kill the man's former girlfriend in the northern tourist town of Pai, police said on Thursday.

Sergeant Uthai Dechawiwat, allowed to walk free after surrendering to police, was reassigned to the town of Pang Ma Pa, 70 km (44 miles) north of Pai near the Myanmar border, while police conduct their investigation.

"We don't want witnesses to feel awkward when they go to Pai station for interviews and see Uthai there," Pai police chief Wanchai Suwanririkate told Reuters by telephone from the picturesque hill town popular with foreign backpackers.

Wanchai quoted witnesses as saying Uthai, who had just finished his shift, was asked to stop a three-way fight between John Leo Del Pinto, 25, his ex-girlfriend Carly Reisig, 24, and her Thai boyfriend on Saturday night.

Del Pinto, a native of Calgary, was trying to stop the Thai man from beating Reisig after she said she was going back to her Canadian boyfriend, Wanchai quoted the witnesses as saying.

When Uthai intervened to stop their quarrel, the trio turned on the policeman who pulled out his gun, Wanchai said.

There was a scuffle and Del Pinto was shot and killed, while Reisig was wounded and treated in hospital.

Reisig gave a different story to Bangkok's Nation newspaper on Tuesday, saying they had left a bar in Pai when a Thai man walked up to them and "hit me for no reason."

After Del Pinto pushed him away, the man got a gun from his motorcycle. There was a struggle and the man shot the Canadian in the face, she said.

"Leo fell to the ground and the man pointed the gun at his heart and fired a second shot. Then he turned around to me and aimed for my heart and shot me in the chest," Reisig was quoted as saying.

Wanchai did not comment on Reisig's version of events, but he retracted an earlier police report that she was pregnant. He said the police were waiting for the results of forensic tests and planned to interview more witnesses.

Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Alex Richardson

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