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Swedes Ljung (left) and  Soderlund deny planning a Phuket murder

Updated Report: Phuket Revenge Murder Pair Linked to Pattaya Gang, Swedish Scam

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Fully Updated Report: Photo Album Above

PHUKET: The speedy arrest of two Swedish men accused of a brutal murder at a luxury gated estate on Phuket has lifted the lid on Scandinavian racketeers operating in Pattaya - and the settling of scores on Phuket.

With Tommy Viktor Soderlund and Johan Sebastian Ljung arrested and behind bars within 24 hours of the brutal knife-to-the-throat killing of Maksim Schantz, Phuket police last night revealed more details of the telephone scam that extends all the way to Sweden.

Soderlund and Ljung, both aged 26, were nabbed about 4pm yesterday when a pair of women's shoes left outside a Phuket apartment room led suspicious police to find the two men hiding in the bathroom.

The woman who belonged to the shoes, Soderlund's Thai girlfriend Jirawan ''Pui'' Luanglue, 22, had been given 100,000 baht by Ulf Carl Johan Hellbacken, 35, in Pattaya. Phuket police allege it was to fund the murder on Phuket.

Last night Ljung, who wielded the 12-centimetre knife that went into Schantz's throat, told a media presentation in Phuket City Police Station that he had not confessed to murder, saying: ''It was an accident.''

Soderlund, also charged with conspiracy to murder and theft of the getaway motorcycle at gunpoint, told Phuketwan: ''We had no plan to kill.''

The violent scuffle with Schantz at The Lantern luxury estate in Phuket City ended with Schantz running to the security guard at the gate crying ''Help! Help!'' and clutching his bleeding throat as the two men now charged with his murder fled through a hole in cladding above a side wall and into the Phuket night.

Early today, Phuket police were using metal detectors to scan roadside verges for a .32 handgun along the route that the pair said they took towards north Phuket to escape after telling local resident Pissanu Nuikaow to hand over his motorcycle, or be shot.

At 2am the two men and Soderlund's girlfriend were still being interviewed separately by police in Phuket City, who won praise for their speedy arrests. Officers believe some aspects of the case are still being covered up.

On Monday night the fleeing men, not knowing Phuket well, at first turned left from the main Thepkasattri highway at the Isuzu showroom, did a loop and found themselves riding back towards The Lantern.

Turning north again, the pair veered left at the Phuket Heroine's Monument landmark, stopped briefly at Anda Place apartments where they had pre-booked a unit, then rode on to Surin Sweet, another apartment block closer to Phuket's beach holiday west coast.

The men slept in D2 and were joined by Soderlund's girlfriend yesterday when she flew from Pattaya to Phuket and booked E2, next door to the men.

Room D2 was empty when Phuket police checked yesterday. But they spied the women's shoes outside the room next door, knocked, and were told by Soderlund's girlfriend that she was alone.

They checked and found the wanted men in the bathroom. The pair had discarded the knife into a swimming pool at The Lantern and the gun along the way to Surin. They surrendered.

THE FALLING out between Soderlund and the murder victim came in Pattaya earlier this year when Schantz allegedly paid a staffer to steal a list of customers from Soderlund's call-centre business, Soderlund told police last night.

In February, two Swedes, four Norwegians and Soderlund were arrested by Pattaya police. Officers were unable to prove that the Sueusktelemarketingspair calling centre, targetting Swedes in Sweden, broke Thai laws. But the seven were jailed briefly for not having work permits.

Schantz ran a rival call centre, Marknadskonsultrna, and there was bitterness because he and Sonderlund once worked together.

Sonderlund told police that he and Ljung heard that Schantz had moved to Phuket while still doing business. Sonderlund decided to settle their disagreement, arriving on the island last month, checking in first at Anda Place, tracing Schantz via Facebook, and eventually moving in as neighbors at The Lantern - at 7000 baht-a-night - two weeks ago.

Soderlund said he believed Schantz owed him three million baht. Ljung told police that Soderlund promised him one third of the money if they squared the ledger with Schantz on Phuket.

On Monday night, they saw Schantz return to The Lantern, and confronted him with a gun and a knife, intending just to threaten him to get back the money.

The pair told police they only learned of Schantz's death when they saw a report on Thai television later that night.

Police in Pattaya and Phuket are still investigating Sonderlund's call centre business, suspecting that others may have known about the plan or perhaps even conspired in the killing of Schantz.

At last night's media presentation, Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong congratulated Lieutent Colonel Somkid Boonrat and his team on the swiftness of the arrests after the murder.

The killing had particularly caused alarm among expat residents at gated communities on Phuket, even triggering false reports that a ''gang of 12 Thais'' was involved.
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Comments

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Yet another example of good, swift detective work by the oft-maligned Royal Thai Police. It would appear that a couple of dangerous criminals, scammers and fraudsters have been taken out of circulation for a while. Good work.

Posted by Mr Man on August 3, 2011 08:52

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Hmm.. shoes outside a room.. very suspicious!

'The women who belonged to the shoes!?'

This is some funny stuff!

Posted by Matt on August 3, 2011 12:41

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The women who belonged to the shoes....

The shoes which belonged to the women sound better...

any chance of a job?

Posted by Nick on August 3, 2011 15:08

Editor Comment:

Shoeshine?

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The Swedes are certainly making the headlines.
These three swedish criminals, then another swedish swindler arrested in Pattaya after a nine year hide out, now we have the swedish nuclear boffin trying to split an atom in his kitchen.
All this in just one week?
Swedish folk here, please be careful out there, this could happen to you.

Posted by Graham on August 5, 2011 08:42

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Well, sounds like murder is premedidated if they rented another room at Anda Place as a hideout.

They rented an apartment next to the victim and then prebooked another apartment somewhere else - why would they have such an elaborate plan to flee if all they want is to get their money back?

Posted by May on August 6, 2011 16:43


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