Crime & Justice

Spanish man who allegedly murdered Colombian surgeon could face death penalty

(Update: recasts, edits headline, lede, adds more info)

Koh Phangan, Thailand, Aug 15 (EFE).- Daniel Sancho, the Spanish man who confessed to killing and dismembering a Colombian surgeon earlier this month, will be charged with premeditated murder, Thai police said Tuesday, a charge that carries the death penalty.

Sancho told police on Aug. 5 he had murdered Edwin Arrieta on the southern island of Koh Phangan, a popular tourist destination known for its monthly, all-night full moon parties.

“We have consulted the prosecutor about some of the evidence and it is consistent enough to charge him with premeditated murder, which carries the death penalty,” the deputy director of the Thai police, Surachate Hakparn, said in Koh Phangan, where the crime allegedly took place on Aug. 2.

Thailand’s second most senior police officer added that it will be up to the prosecutor to decide what sentence to seek at trial.

Surachate said the suspect, the 29-year-old son of Spanish actor Rodolfo Sancho, “stabbed” Arrieta in the chest during an argument.

“There was a fight and then Daniel stabbed Edwin, who hit his head against the sink,” Thailand’s second most senior police officer said, although he added that they were still waiting for the results of the “autopsy to definitively confirm the cause of death” and that it was a “premeditated” act by Sancho.

The only evidence presented of the stabbing during the press conference were images of a torn T-shirt on which no traces of blood were visible.

“It was not an accident because (Sancho) went to buy material for the murder, such as a knife and a razor,” the officer added.

Surachate, who arrived on Tuesday on Koh Phangan for the arraignment, said that, based on Sancho’s confession, the motive was that the Spaniard wanted to end the relationship he had with Arrieta.

Surachate insisted that there is no evidence to suggest that there was anyone else involved, according to the forensic evidence and what was recorded on security cameras.

“According to the evidence we have from the crime scene, there was only one perpetrator and two knives and a saw have been found,” he explained, adding that DNA found on the alleged victim’s shirt points to Sancho as the sole offender.

Sancho spent three hours dismembering the body, Surachate continued, before spending the night cleaning the hotel room where the alleged murder occurred. Police also found 9,000 dollars in the safe used by Sancho.

Surachate also confirmed that the investigation had concluded 10 days after he confessed to police in Koh Phangan, although police added that an autopsy has yet to be conducted.

Sancho and Arrieta, who met last year through Instagram, met in Koh Phangan on Aug 2, the day on which the murder and dismemberment of the surgeon allegedly took place, whose remains have been found in various locations on the island of Phangan.

According to judicial sources Efe spoke to, the fact that Sancho has confessed and collaborated with the investigation could help reduce the sentence. EFEraa-igx-pav/ks

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