Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prime suspect in murder of British national flees

An international manhunt is under way following the suspected murder of a 47-year-old British citizen in downtown Yangon on November 5.

BBC reporters exit the stairwell at the address where a 47-year-old Briton was found dead on November 6. Photo: Zarni Phyo / The Myanmar TimesBBC reporters exit the stairwell at the address where a 47-year-old Briton was found dead on November 6. Photo: Zarni Phyo / The Myanmar Times

The body of Peter Gary Ferguson was found on November 6 in the apartment of his colleague Harris Binotti. Both men worked as teachers at Yangon’s Horizon International School.

Local police have named Mr Binotti as the prime suspect in Mr Ferguson’s murder and a case has been opened under section 302 of the penal code.

Myanmar police said they are working in cooperation with Interpol, following reports that Mr Binotti had left the country.

The police report said Mr Ferguson had sustained injuries to his head and chest.

“We are still waiting for the results of the post-mortem examination, and the body is currently at the morgue of Yangon General Hospital,” said Police Captain Toe Myo, head of the Kyauktada Myoma Police Station.

“The criminal ran away in the evening of November 5 on Thai Airways. Now, only his girlfriend is left here. Currently, we are conducting [our investigation] with the help of the embassies,” he added.

According to sources working on the investigation, Mr Ferguson and his wife Supatchaya Sichompor, a Thai citizen, went to a party with Mr Binotti and his girlfriend Elsie Devolder at a hotel in Thaketa township on the evening of November 4.

After the party, Mr Ferguson went back to the home of Mr Binotti and Ms Devolder on 39th Street in Kyauktada township. At 4am on November 5, Ms Devolder called Ms Supatchaya to say that Mr Binotto and Mr Ferguson were fighting.

The police report said that when Ms Supatchaya called her husband at 6:30am, Mr Binotti had answered and told her that Mr Ferguson was sleeping. She called again at midday but got no answer.

“Elsie Devolder came to the home of Ms Supatichaya Sichompor and then they went to the 39th Street first-floor apartment at 6am on November 6,” said the police report.

The neighbours said they had heard loud voices on November 5 at around 4am, but thought nothing of it as audible quarrels between Mr Binotti and Ms Devolder had not been uncommon in the two months the pair had lived in the apartment.

Ko Myo Kyaw, who lives on the ground floor, said he only heard about the murder after the police came to the apartment.

“I saw a guest came to the apartment on Friday and I heard a girl’s voice say ‘Go ... Go!’ But [it didn’t occur to me it could] be a murder case,” he said.

Police have not as yet detained anyone else in relation to the case. A woman believed to be Ms Devolder was seen taking belongings from the apartment yesterday afternoon, before leaving in a taxi.

Prominent lawyer U Ko Ni said action will be taken under Myanmar law, if authorities were to pursue an extradition order. If arrested in the UK, a legal case could be opened there as well.

“Myanmar authorities can request the return of the criminal if Interpol arrests him. But there would need to be an extradition agreement between Myanmar and the country he’s caught in,” U Ko Ni said.

Mr Ferguson had worked at Horizon International School since 2013.

An official from Horizon International School told The Myanmar Times yesterday that Mr Ferguson and Mr Binotti were thought to have had a good relationship. Both had showed up to work on November 4 and left together, said an official from the school.

“We didn’t see them with any sign of anger.”

A British embassy spokesperson said yesterday, “We are providing help and support to the family of a British national following a death and are in touch with the local authorities.”