Thai policeman charged with killing Canadian

Mon Jan 7, 2008 2:20am EST
 
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BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai police sergeant was charged on Monday with killing a Canadian and attempting to kill the man's pregnant ex-wife during an argument between the tourists in the northern tourist town of Pai, the local police chief said.

Sergeant Uthai Dechawiwat was allowed to walk free during the investigation because he turned himself in after what he said was an accident and promised not to tamper with witnesses, Pai police chief Wanchai Suwanririkate said.

"Since he has surrendered after the shootout, we let him go free after informing him of charges of murder and attempted murder," Wanchai 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 fight between John Leo Del Pinto, 25, and his ex-wife Carly Reisig, 24, on Saturday night.

But the man, 5ft 11in tall, and his ex-wife turned on the 5ft 3in policeman, who pulled out his pistol when they started beating him, they were quoted as saying.

"The policeman, who is about 1.6 meters, was beaten to the ground by the man, a bodybuilder 1.8 meter tall, and the hippy woman," Wanchai said.

Del Pinto tried to snatch the pistol, shots were fired and the couple fell, according to witnesses, Wanchai added.

Del Pinto, a frequent visitor to Pai, died at the scene. Reisig was being treated in a hospital in nearby province of Chiang Mai and her wounds were not life threatening, Wanchai said.

Police and Canadian consular officials would interview Reisig, who was pregnant by a Thai man, Wanchai said.

(Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Michael Battye)