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Death sentence for Artur Segarra for killing Spanish countryman David Bernat

Cityscape of Bangkok

Spanish murder suspect Artur Segarra was sentenced to death by a Thai court, which found him guilty for the premeditated murder in Bangkok of his compatriot David Bernat and 12 other crimes related to the case. “There is very little chance of achieving anything positive for my defendant,” said Jassada Piyasuwanvanit, the court-appointed lawyer who has defended Segarra during the three months that witnesses have lasted and their third legal representative since the arrest.

Similarly, representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office consulted by agencies, said they are “sure” that the judge will condemn the accused to the death penalty, the only possible in case of premeditated murder, although, if Segarra decides to confess, the punishment would be reduced to life imprisonment. “I have not killed anyone, I do not know anything,” said the accused repeatedly, who, during the process, pleaded not guilty of all charges against him.

Segarra arrived at a Bangkok court on Friday smiling and showing reporters the verse of the Bible “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34), written in ink on the palm of his hand.

After being found guilty, he will still have two opportunities to appeal the sentence, before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, and when the sentence is firm, may apply for clemency to the Royal House to reduce the punishment, although the latter depend on the Department of Corrections.

The defendant was arrested on 7 February 2016 by the Cambodian authorities in the town of Sihanoukville, where he had fled two days earlier, and handed over to the Thai police the following day.

Since then, Segarra has been held in Bangkok Remand prison in the Thai capital, where he has prepared his defense after the court agreed to hand over to the inmate a copy of the police searches. The victim, who resided in Iran and frequently visited Thailand, arrived in Bangkok on 19 January 2016 to enjoy a few days’ holiday. That same night he stayed with Segarra, whom he knew from the Thai night, for drinks and after midnight the duo went to the defendant’s house, where the kidnapping took place.

According to the story exposed during the trial by members of the investigation, between the days 20 and 26 Segarra retained and extorted Bernat to gain access to the checking account in Singapore where the victim kept his savings. According to the forensic witness, the victim was killed around the 26th and, according to the investigation, that same night the defendant went on his motorcycle in the direction of the river crossing Bangkok loaded with a large package, where the police suspected the corpse, and returned the dawn of 27 without the burden.

Authorities found the first mortal remains of Bernat on Jan. 30 on the Chao Phraya River and later recovered six more pieces of body in the water.

Police identified Segarra as the main suspect on February 5, the night after being recognized at a restaurant in the province of Surin fled to Cambodia. The prosecution called on the stand about 40 people, none of them direct witness to the crime, to keep Segarra guilty with declarations, DNA samples and fingerprints collected in the apartment rented by Segarra, recordings of security cameras and bank statements.

Segarra claims that he is innocent of all crimes and claimed in his turn to be a victim of a trap involving his Thai ex-girlfriend, Pridsana Saen-ubon, who testified against him last December.

In 2009, Thailand executed for the last time two convicted persons who were sentenced to death for drug trafficking, before applying an indefinite unregulated pause to capital punishment. The latest execution for a murder crime dates back to 2003, when the country changed the method of executions from shooting to lethal injection. According to Amnesty International, at the end of last year 427 prisoners on the death row, 24 of them foreigners, had been held in Thailand’s prisons. An Australian was sentenced to death on February 7 for a murder, dismemberment and destruction of evidence similar to the case against the Spaniard.

-TN

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