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Police Seek Clues In Murder Of Thailand’s Top Media Official

April 12, 1996 GMT

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ The chief of Thailand’s state-run news media was killed by a gunman who fired on his car as he was driving to his suburban Bangkok home, police said Friday.

Saengchai Sunthornwat, the most senior government official to be murdered in many years, died late Thursday. His wife, who was also in the car, escaped unharmed, authorities told The Nation newspaper.

The assailant fired a single bullet, then escaped on a motorbike driven by an accomplice, newspapers said.

Bangkok police refused to answer repeated telephone calls for information, but reports on state-run radio said Friday that investigators were still searching for clues in the case.

Saengchai, 53, was trained as a lawyer and worked for 16 years in the United States before returning to Thailand to help form a cable television channel. He was appointed to the top position at the government’s media organization in 1993.

The Mass Communications Organization of Thailand operates two television channels, nine radio stations and the Thai News Agency.

Newspapers said Saengchai had no known enemies, but the Bangkok Post quoted sources at his workplace as saying he may have hurt the business interests of some officials there. Saengchai recently ordered the removal of several low-quality music video programs from one government television channel, the Post reported.