Trial opens in Thailand for Spanish tourist over the killing of Colombian surgeon

By AP   April 9, 2024 | 05:14 pm PT
Trial opens in Thailand for Spanish tourist over the killing of Colombian surgeon
A Thai police officer escorts Spanish Daniel Sancho Bronchalo on suspicion of murdering and dismembering a Colombian surgeon from Koh Phagnan island to Koh Samui Island court, southern Thailand, Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. Photo by AP
Thailand’s court began a trial Tuesday of the son of Spanish actors accused of killing and dismembering a Colombian surgeon on a popular tourist island.

Daniel Sancho Bronchalo, 29, who arrived in Thailand on July 31 as a tourist, was indicted by prosecutors in October over the death of Edwin Arrieta Arteaga, whose remains were found stuffed in plastic bags at a landfill on Koh Pha Ngan, an island famous for its rave-style "full moon parties."

Lawyer Juan Gonzalo Ospina Serrano, who represents Arrieta’s family, told reporters at the Koh Samui Provincial Court before the trial that the family trusts Thai prosecutors to deliver justice.

"They are grateful and hope that Thai law is forceful and that the truth can be told," he said.

The charges against Sancho include premeditated murder, concealment of a body and destruction of other people’s documents, which is related to the alleged damaging of the Arrieta’s passport.

Sancho pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and destruction of documents but pleaded guilty to hiding the victim’s body.

The charge of premeditated murder carries a possible death penalty.

The maximum sentence for damaging other’s documents carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a 100,000 baht (US$2,750) fine. The concealment or damaging of a body carries a year in prison and a 20,000 baht ($550) fine.

The trial is opening with statements from witnesses brought in by the plaintiff, said Apichart Srinual, a Thai lawyer who represents Sancho.

When asked whether he is confident about his defense case, Aprichart said "it depends on the evidence," adding that "there are a lot of witnesses.

It depends on what they will say."Sancho was driven to the court in a closed car and was not visible to reporters waiting outside.

Sancho’s father, Spanish actor Rodolfo Sancho, also came to the court but declined to comment.

Sancho, a chef, was arrested in August after the remains of Arrieta, 44, were discovered at the landfill.Police said Sancho came in to report a missing person and was subsequently detained.

He later reportedly confessed to killing and dismembering Arrieta and dumping the body parts in the landfill and the sea, though he denied that his action was premeditated, according to police.

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