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Vital gambling den shootout footage missing

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Closed-circuit television camera footage viewed as key evidence in Monday’s shootout at a gambling den in Bangkok must have been removed, says the city’s police chief.

Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pakapong Pongpetra said on Wednesday that his officers were working as speedily as possible to discover the circumstances in which a police officer was killed, along with three others, at the illegal casino on Rama III Road on Monday night.

The dead officer has been named as Pol Maj Watthanaset Samniangprasert, 32, an interrogation inspector at Samae Dam police station, who is reported to have frequently gambled at the venue.

Pol Lt Gen Pakapong said every single CCTV camera inside the den appears to have been removed by the time police arrived at the scene 30 minutes after the shooting.

The commissioner said if police had solid evidence that the place operated as a casino, its owner would be charged.

Most recently, the four-storey building in Yannawa district, where the ground-floor den is located, was leased to a man named Tor, who opened what became a popular casino.

Police say that late Monday night, a man of Chinese appearance shot dead Pol Maj Watthanaset and two other people before being shot dead himself by another man who fled the premises and is still at large.

It is believed that a personal feud motivated the gunman to kill Pol Maj Watthanaset.

Pol Lt Gen Pakapong said yesterday that the building owner and those known to have gambled there would be questioned in connection with the case.

The commissioner confirmed it took police half an hour to reach the den after being told of the shooting.  A blood-stained Baccarat table was reportedly found dumped behind the building.

Outspoken former MP Chuwit Kamolvisit and former metropolitan police officer Santhana Prayoonrat will be invited to provide information about such gambling dens. They have often given media interviews on the subject, Pol Lt Gen Pakapong said.

He said all relevant facts would be studied before any conclusion was drawn on whether police had failed to suppress the den’s activities. Those who had destroyed vital evidence would also be identified and charged.

A committee investigating alleged police involvement in casinos generally is different from the one investigating this particular shooting spree.

This article was first published in Bangkok Post

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