A Thai bookmaker has been arrested on suspicion of brutally murdering a Vietnamese gambler to avoid paying out 45,000 dollars on a Euro 2000 bet, police in the commercial capital of Ho Chi Minh City said Thursday.
Officers detained Den Chai Nutipanich last Saturday after discovering three black plastic bags containing the dissected torso of Ngu Luong under a bed in a hotel room he had rented in the city.
The victim was last seen by his family on June 27 when he went out saying he was going to collect his massive winnings from a bet he had placed on the tournament.
Luong's head is still missing -- police believe he was murdered elsewhere in the city and his body was then concealed in the hotel room.
In a raid on the home of Nutipanich's Vietnamese wife, officers found a book in which he had listed the bets he had taken as well as several black plastic bags similar to those containing the victim's dissected torso.
Police believe Nutipanich, who was born in 1970 and divides his time between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, worked as an agent for a large Thai betting syndicate.
They are unsure why he rented the hotel room for a month, when he had a home in the city.
In recent days Thai police have expressed fears of an explosion of gambling-related violence following the conclusion of the Euro 2000 championship as betting syndicates seek to welsh on bets.
Betting on football is illegal in both countries, but the Euro 2000 championship sparked a huge upsurge in underground gambling, which has already led to a rash of violence here.
Last month one Vietnamese was killed and another seriously injured in separate disputes over bets.
Courts in both countries handed down exemplary jail sentences during the championships in a bid to deter bookmakers.
Earlier this month, a Thai court sentenced a black-market bookie to 10 months in jail, in an unprecedented swift hearing aimed at stamping out the gambling.
And last month a court in Ho Chi Minh City jailed two men for taking and placing tiny bets in a move officials openly acknowledged was intended as a deterrent – (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)