Last Updated: Friday, February 15, 2008 | 9:46 AM MT
Thailand’s human rights commission has publish a report suggesting Thai police botched their investigation into a Calgary man’s shooting death last month.Leo Del Pinto, 24, (below) was shot and killed after an altercation with an off-duty Thai police officer in the northern town of Pai on Jan. 6.
His friend, Carly Reisig, was also shot and injured in the incident.
An internal police investigation found the police officer acted in self defence, but a report by the human rights commission released Friday refutes that claim.
‘Thailand’s top forensic scientist stepped in and revealed categorically that when Leo Del Pinto was shot, he was shot from above,’ reporter Andrew Drummond told CBC News from Bangkok.’Somebody was shooting down into his head and that totally contradicts police evidence that says the policeman was falling back and he was being overpowered by the foreigner.’
Sgt. Uthai Dechawiwat re-enacted his role in the shooting for Thai investigators in January.
The commission is asking the Thai prime minister for an independent probe by the justice ministry’s Department of Special Investigation.
‘I spoke to the human rights commissioner today and essentially it looks like the police have backed down on the case. They’re no longer claiming it was an accident,’ Drummond said.
Sgt. Uthai Dechawiwat (CBC picture right)has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder. He said he was trying to break up a fight between Del Pinto and Reisig.
But Reisig told CBC News in January that the off-duty policeman punched her in the face as she and Del Pinto were leaving a restaurant and that her friend stepped in to defend her.
The commission has heard evidence from two local witnesses, backing Reisig’s account. They are being held in protective custody.
NB: Note. The witnesses are not in custody but their identities are being concealed prior to the trial and they are being looked after by the National Human Rights Commission.