“I am innocent.” This was the immediate impassioned reaction of the alleged mastermind of last December’s brutal murder in Taman Pelangi, Johor Bahru when a team of police officers cornered him last Wednesday in Chaiyaphum province, Thailand.
The arrest of the 36-year-old along with his wife at a house in the compound of a temple in the province had brought an end to a manhunt mounted by the Malaysian and Thai police to arrest one of the most wanted men in Malaysia.
"When the Thai policemen confronted him, he (the alleged mastermind) pleaded innocence and tried in vain to wriggle out of the impending arrest," a source told Bernama.
Speaking in Thai, the Johor-born suspect who sported a large tattoo of Jesus Christ on his right arm, claimed he was nowhere near the murder scene on the night of Dec 17 last year when the murder occurred, he said.
The man also claimed to be in possession of relevant documents to back up his alibi, said the source who declined identification.
Despite the suspect's best attempts to win his freedom, the police officers were not convinced and swiftly took the wanted Malaysian and his wife under their custody, he added.
On Dec 17, a suspected triad member known as ‘Ah Chiu’ was repeatedly stabbed before he was mowed down by a man driving a white BMW car at a petrol station located in Taman Pelangi, Johor Bahru.
The murder was also caught on closed-circuit television camera and became viral on social media.
Since the murder, Malaysian police arrested several individuals for questioning and in January this year, charged two suspect for the crime.
Since escaping to Thailand last December, the tattooed Malaysian suspect according to the source, had turned over a new leaf by embracing a spiritual life and becoming a Buddhist monk at the temple.
However, he claimed that the man’s recent ‘conversion’ to Buddhism was probably a ruse to conceal his past.
Meanwhile, another source told Bernama the alleged mastermind maintained his innocence by saying he did not have a reason to kill the victim.
"He (alleged mastermind) claimed that the man owed him about RM140,000, so there was no reason for him to see him dead," he said.
Currently, the suspect and his wife are now awaiting extradition to Malaysia.
Despite the arrest of the alleged mastermind, Bernama was made to understand the Thai police are continuing their search for another Malaysian suspect linked to the Taman Pelangi murder case.
The man who is married to a Thai woman, was believed to have fled to Thailand to escape prosecution by the Malaysian authorities.