Outspoken Thai businessman feared slain by driver
Three men led Thai investigators on Wednesday to a mountain grave and what police believe is the body of a businessman and prominent government critic who disappeared a week ago.
Bangkok police commissioner Lieutenant-General Comronwit Toopgrajank said a driver who worked for the businessman, Akeyuth Anchanbutr, and two suspected accomplices led them to the body, which was buried on a mountain in Thailand’s southern province of Phatthalung. Comronwit said the driver confessed to killing Akeyuth to get his money.
Comronwit said in a telephone interview that a relative of Akeyuth’s identified the body as his, but that police will conduct a DNA test to be certain before filing charges.
Akeyuth was a critic of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives in self-imposed exile to avoid serving a two-year jail term imposed on him for a conflict of interest conviction in 2008. His supporters claim he was unfairly convicted, while his opponents complain that he continues to hold great influence over the government from abroad.
Akeyuth’s lawyer Suwat Apaipak said he believes Akeyuth was targeted by political opponents.
In February last year, Akeyuth leaked to the media details about a private meeting between Yingluck and a group of businessmen and accused her of conflict of interest. The government said Yingluck did have such a meeting but did not explain what it was about.
Akeyuth, 58, fled Thailand in 1983 after he was convicted of running an investment pyramid scheme. He returned to Thailand after the statute of limitations ended.