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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

One dead as gunman opens fire at Thai protesters

Posted: 27 Dec 2013 07:06 PM PST

BANGKOK (AFP) - An unidentified gunman opened fire at opposition protesters in Bangkok Saturday, killing one person and wounding several others in a pre-dawn attack that fanned tensions in the politically divided kingdom.

The shooting follows weeks of mass anti-government protests - seeking to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra - that have triggered bloody clashes between police and demonstrators.

A protester died after he was shot in the torso and three others were hospitalised with gunshot wounds, a spokesman for the city's Erawan emergency centre said.

Police confirmed the shooting but said its forensic team was unable to access the scene of the incident, which happened where a group of protesters was camped overnight near Government House.

It was unclear who fired the shots but armed provocateurs have a history of trying to stir tensions in the politically polarised kingdom, with each side usually blaming the other.

Some local media reports said the shots were fired from a passing car by more than one gunman.

Yingluck has called February elections in the hope of bringing an end to the demonstrations, which have drawn tens of thousands of people seeking to curb her billionaire family's political dominance.

But the protesters have vowed to block the vote, saying it will only return the Shinawatra clan to power.

A second round of registration for constituency candidates was due to begin around the country on Saturday, raising fears of further clashes.

Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and about 400 wounded in several outbreaks of street violence.

The government has said it will ask the army to provide security for election candidates and voters.

A policeman and a civilian died of gunshots fired by unknown assailants while 153 people were injured after violence erupted Thursday when demonstrators tried to force their way into an election registration venue.

The army chief insisted Friday that the military would remain neutral and said it was up to the election authorities whether the vote could go ahead, but he did not rule out another coup.

"The door is neither closed nor open. In every situation, anything can happen," he said when asked about the possibility of a coup, without elaborating.

Thailand has been periodically convulsed by political bloodshed since Yingluck's older brother Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago.

The protesters, a mix of southerners, middle class and urban elite, accuse the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician of corruption and say he controls his sister's government from his self-exile in Dubai.

They want an unelected "people's council" to run the country to oversee loosely-defined reforms - such as an end to alleged "vote buying" - before new elections are held in around a year to 18 months.

Yingluck's government still enjoys strong support in the northern half of the country and is expected to win the election if it goes ahead.

Thaksin's "Red Shirt" supporters have accused the demonstrators of trying to incite the military to seize power again, in a country which has seen 18 successful or attempted coups since 1932.

It is the worst civil strife since 2010, when more than 90 people were killed in a bloody military crackdown on pro-Thaksin Red Shirt protests under the previous government.

Vocal teacher faces the music

Posted: 27 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

A VOCAL instructor at a music school organised sex-and-drug parties and also sold "Ice" on the side to pay for the medical treatment of his AIDS condition.

Tommy Lim Yong Thong's days of partying and pushing drugs are now over. He was sentenced yesterday to five-and-a-half years in jail and six strokes of the cane.

He pleaded guilty to trafficking and consuming drugs and planning the drug-fuelled gatherings.

Lim was arrested with two other men by officers of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) at 1pm on May 26. He was then with Diego Mark Jason Solares, 29, and De Tomas Camerino Efren Jr, 33, both Filipinos, in a room at the Furama Riverfront Hotel. More than 40gm of Ice, the street name for methamphetamine, was found in the room.

Later that day, CNB officers returned to the hotel to raid the room of Coert Isaac Stanley Parree, 42, and found Ice and an improvised pipe. The Dutch national was then a flight attendant with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Investigations then revealed that Parree had messaged Lim on May 22 that he was in the Furama Riverfront Hotel. Lim agreed to organise a "session". Within the gay community, this refers to a party involving sex and drugs.

The next day, he booked a room at the hotel and invited Solares and Efren. Lim admitted to bringing the Ice and giving it to the two Filipinos for free, with whom he had sex with.

He also admitted to selling the drug to his clients outside the hotel. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Alleged killer to undergo mental evaluation

Posted: 27 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

A FORKLIFT driver charged with the murder of a beautician whose decapitated body was found floating in Whampoa River has been sent for psychiatric assessment.

Gursharan Singh, 25, an Indian national, was charged last week with the murder of Jasvinder Kaur, 33, together with an unknown person at a Balestier Road premises between Dec 10 and 12.

Jasvinder's body was wrapped in a trash bag when it was spotted floating in the waterway between McNair Road and St George's Road.

Besides her still-missing head and hands, her arms had also been apparently mutilated.

Gursharan, who is on a Special Pass, was arrested last Wednesday at his workplace in Sims Avenue.

According to the police, he is a friend of the victim's senior logistics coordinator husband, Harvinder Singh, 33, who skipped town half an hour before his wife's body was found on Dec 12. Gursharan's case will be mentioned again on Jan 17. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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