Chinese media, this week, has been covering the story of 35-year-old Mr Zhang Yang also known as ‘Leo’ portraying the actions of the Thai police in a critical and negative light. However, senior police officers within the force at the highest level have defended the actions of the police service as it is reported that the main suspect is also now facing charges of money laundering and being involved with illegal online gambling.
The Royal Thai Police has responded to claims made on behalf of a Chinese national accused of shooting two police officers at his mansion on May 19th last, insisting that he panicked after being approached by suspicious-looking men at the rear of his house who later turned out to be police officers executing a court search warrant. The Chinese businessman, suspected of having links to transnational crime and money laundering, has been revealed to be in possession of a passport from the Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Kritsana Pattanacharoen, Deputy Spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, has moved to counter reports this week on Chinese media and followed up by media reports in Thailand that the police raid on a suspected transnational criminal and his associates at a luxury mansion known as Miraflores House on the Phoenix Golf Course in the Banglamung area of Pattaya in mid-May was conducted either outside proper procedures or without a court search warrant.
It follows the release of a video online from China which shows a large group of men, without uniform, descending upon the owner of the property by the poolside at the rear of the property on Tuesday, May 19th last after which he took flight and ran from the scene into his home.
35-year-old man fled arriving police officers to his bedroom and opened fire on them wounding two
The 35-year-old man, Mr Zhang Yang, then locked himself in an upstairs bedroom while firing dozens of rounds at police from a specially adapted 9mm automatic pistol and releasing tear gas.
The shooting spree led to the wounding of two Thai police officers, one of them, Police Captain Phanthep Sribunnag, seriously, after being hit in the stomach while Police Senior Sergeant Major Kreetha Thipnate was hit in the leg.
All worked at Pattaya Central Police Station with a special operations unit charged with targeting transnational organised crime.
The two injured police officers are now reported, according to medical sources in Pattaya, to be out of danger and are expected to make a recovery from their injuries.
It is reported that between 60 to 70 spent ammunition cartridges were retrieved by police later from inside the bedroom.
Police spokesman defends the force, says the search warrant was approved by a court in Pattaya based on evidence presented by case investigators
Police Lieutenant Colonel Kritsana has revealed that a court would have had to review the evidence presented by the special operations squad in Pattaya ahead of issuing a search warrant.
In other words, there would have to have been a sound basis to believe the criminal activity was taking place for the search warrant to be approved by a court.
He also revealed that uniformed police officers were standing at the front of the property in accordance with proper procedures while police also secured and entered the property from the rear to prevent the suspects involved in nefarious activities from taking flight.
Officers had prior intelligence on the Chinese gang
The senior police officer said that police would have had prior intelligence regarding the occupants of the house and their likely reaction to the raid.
After the raid, police sources have confirmed that the gun used by the shooter was licensed in Thailand but it is understood the owner was the man’s girlfriend who is a Thai national.
Another one of the Chinese men occupying the house also had access to a gun which he had concealed.
In addition, police discovered bulletproof vests at the home and pointed to the suspect’s use of tear gas on officers as highly unusual.
Lawyer for Mr Zhang Yang said his client reacted out of fear for his life when he saw menacing intruders
A lawyer for the Chinese man, Mr Yang also known as ‘Leo’, who is still being held by police since his arrest on May 19th, Mr Anirut Kongsap, is suggesting that his client fired on the officers after sighting them approaching after they climbed a fence at the back of the property and put him in fear of being kidnapped or otherwise harmed.
He told Thai TV station, Channel 3, this week that one of the men leading the approaching band of men looked particularly serious and menacing.
This scene was shown in the video which went viral on social media in China.
All police officers on the raid bore identification
Police authorities have, however, countered that when the officers who secured the house from the rear, having pulled up in four cars, were executing the search warrant, they all bore proper identification.
They had also identified themselves to a gardener who asked them what they were doing on the property.
No interpreter present which is a requirement for serving warrants on foreigners who do not speak Thai
However, the Thai lawyer acting for the main suspect, Mr Yang, has also suggested that police failed to identify themselves and display a search warrant.
Police are insisting, on the other hand, that a search warrant was issued by a court before the raid.
Mr Anirut pointed out that his client speaks no Thai nor can he read the language.
He said police did not have an interpreter to communicate with his client, which was an additional requirement when serving a search warrant on a foreign national who cannot understand Thai.
Charged with attempted murder, causing injury and now facing prosecution for money laundering
Mr Yang has been charged with attempted murder, causing bodily harm to the officers and illegal use of firearms.
It is also reported further charges in relation to money laundering are being pursued as well as operating an illegal online gambling operation.
The latter was the basis initially for the search of the house and the raid by police whose investigation was prompted by an ostentatious display of wealth at the property including Rolls Royce, Mercedes and Porsche cars, all Bangkok registered, parked in bays within the house and seen during the raid this month.
Police are reported to have removed documentation and computer devices from the property in connection with their ongoing investigation.
Lawyer says Mr Yang is a businessman engaged in property development in Thailand and trading
His lawyer says his client is a businessman who purchased his home through a company and who dealt in bitcoin, gold and property.
He claimed his client’s mission for being in Thailand at this time was the development of an upmarket housing estate aimed at foreigners coming to live in Thailand.
Thai officials, days after the raid, revealed that the Chinese man whose detention and experience is being highlighted, by a media campaign in China where the businessman’s cousin is also acting on his behalf, is a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis, a nation of two islands on the Caribbean Sea which offers an attractive passport for investments scheme to wealthy foreigners.
Mr Yang’s lawyer, Mr Anirut, says that, as far as he knows, his client has been involved in real estate for two to three years and has no links with organised crime nor any illegal business activity.
Remorse for shooting on serving police officers but dismay at being held and his visa being revoked
He told the media, in recent days, that his client was dismayed to hear that his visa has been revoked and that he was being held in detention in the same clothes with no ability to access a bath.
He said that he is remorseful for the fact that he ended up causing injury to serving police officers but genuinely felt that he was defending himself in the midst of what appeared to him to be a kidnapping attempt as he stood at the back of his home near the swimming pool between 2 pm and 3 pm on the day of the incident.
Mr Anirut emphasised repeatedly that other Chinese nationals had been the subject of kidnappings and even worse in recent years while living in Pattaya.
Shocking case of a 30-year-old Chinese man and his 28-year-old wife abducted in Pattaya and murdered in suitcases dropped into a river in Kamphaeng Phet
This includes the shocking case of 30-year-old Chinese man Wang Jun and his 28-year-old wife Zhu Bing who were abducted by a Chinese criminal gang with triad links at a luxury home in Pattaya in mid-February 2020.
The body of the Chinese man was found by a fisherman on the Ping River in Kamphaeng Phet in central Thailand on Tuesday, February 25th 2020.
Four Chinese men arrested after the hideous murder of a Chinese tourist and his wife last Monday night
He had been bundled into the suitcase by his captors alive and it had been thrown into the river sometime the night before after a car stopped on the road as the triad gang raced to make their exit from Thailand.
His wife 28-year-old Zhu Bing is understood to have met a similar fate.
The pair were regular visitors to Thailand and had given a special party on February 14th for Valentine’s Day after only having arrived in the kingdom, with friends, on February 12th 2020.