Spaniard faces death penalty for murder
Thailand’s Appeals Court today (Friday) upheld the death sentence for a Spanish man, Artur Segarra Princep, who was convicted of killing a fellow countryman, mutilating his body and throwing it in pieces into the capital’s main river, the Chao Phraya, in January 2016.
Thailand recently controversially reintroduced the death penalty as it holds talks with the European Union about re-establishing diplomatic ties.
Princep, who has maintained his innocence, will now appeal to Thailand’s Supreme Court.
The Appeals Court judge said security camera video, the testimonies of witnesses, including from a maid at his apartment block and his Thai girlfriend, and forensic results on DNA samples collected from his freezer provided sufficient evidence that the 38-year-old killed Spanish national David Bernat, 41.
The case has attracted considerable media attention in Spain.
Segarra, who has been held in jail for 2½ years, was convicted of Bernat’s murder, illegal detention, torture, concealment of the body and theft. He was given the death sentence last April.
He was also ordered to repay Bt735,000 (€19,000) to Bernat’s family, which Segarra allegedly took out of the victim’s bank account.
The court heard Bernat had just arrived in Bangkok for a holiday when he met Segarra for drinks. They went Segarra’s flat when he was abducted and detained by his friend. He was reportedly tortured for days for his card codes and was then killed. The corpse was kept in a freezer before being dismembered for disposal in the river.
Bernat’s body parts were discovered in the Chao Phraya in January 2016 and Segarra was arrested in Cambodia in days later.
The case will not ease tension between the European Union and the Bangkok junta.
Last month, Human Rights Watch called on the Thai government to halt further executions and restore its de-facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Thailand executed a 26-year-old man by lethal injection on June 18, in the country’s first execution since August 2009.
“Thailand’s resumed use of the death penalty marks a major setback for human rights,” said the rights NGO’s regional director Brad Adams. “The Thai government’s many pledges about moving toward abolishing the death penalty clearly meant nothing.”
Relations were cut by Brussels after the May 2014 coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. A delegation of MEPs is visiting the military-run kingdom on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the prospects of re-establishing ties.
Reforms to the fishing industry and the holding of a general election by February 2019 are seen as European prerequisites.
The Thai military has pushed the EU to slash ties. Picture credit: Wikimedia