BANGKOK – The army has admitted a soldier threatened the life of an Israeli man by firing a gun at his cafe after the case was disclosed by a lawyer.
Attorney Sittra Biebangkerd (2nd from right at the table) briefed reporters at his law office Thursday on the case of an Israeli man whose life was threatened by a Thai army officer. Photo: Sittra Biebangkerd / Facebook
Maj. Gen. Worachet Chawananoraseth, spokesman for the Second Army Region, said Saturday (October 8) that Lt. Preecha Chaimat, 51, of the Third Engineering Battalion in Nakhon Ratchasima, fired bullets to threaten the Israeli, the reports Bangkok Post.
The incident happened two months ago but was first exposed on Thursday by Sittra Biebangkerd, a high-profile lawyer who has earned a reputation for taking on cases against powerful individuals and institutions.
The lawyer said on his Facebook page that on August 6 an army officer, whose name has not been released, searched the Israeli man’s cafe in Sawang Daen Din district of Sakon Nakhon province, where he lived with his children. The officer fired a number of bullets at the scene, the attorney said.
The Israeli, identified as Rudy Bahar, 53, later sought help from Mr Sittra’s law firm after receiving threats and after police in the northeastern province refused to take the case.
At a media briefing at Mr Sittra’s office on Thursday, Mr Bahar’s daughter, who was not named, provided additional background on the case.
Mr. Bahar, a longtime resident of Thailand, has three sons and two daughters with his Thai wife. The family had a motorcycle shop in Pattaya, but about four years ago Mr Bahar’s wife wanted to run a coffee shop in her hometown of Sakon Nakhon.
The couple invested about 2 million baht in the deal. At that time, a new road was being built in the area. A military officer with the rank of lieutenant oversaw the project and met Mr. Bahar’s wife.
The confrontation between the officer and Mr Bahar happened when the cafe opened on August 6, his daughter said.
When Mr. Bahar saw the soldier arriving, he asked him to leave. The officer was enraged and drew his gun, firing four shots at the ground and five more at Mr Bahar.
Fortunately, the bullets didn’t hit anyone, his daughter said.
After the shooting, the Israeli took his children to her home in Pattaya, fearing for their safety, Thai media reported.
Mr. Sittra said his client went to the Sawang Daen Din Police Station, but the officers refused to take his complaint because, according to the Post, the soldiers in the area are more powerful than the police.
He was later tricked by an interpreter into signing a document on August 7 stating he would not take any legal action against the soldier, the lawyer said.
The motive for the shooting was unclear, but the lawyer said in his Facebook post that the woman was having an affair with the officer.
Maj-Gen Worachet said soldiers from the Second Army region took the officer to Sawang Daen Din Police Station on Thursday – the same day Mr Sittra revealed the incident – to be briefed on allegations of possessing a firearm in public and to have fired it publicly. The gun was confiscated.
Although Lt. Preecha was released while police are still gathering evidence, the army set up a committee to consider disciplinary sanctions against him, the spokesman said.