PNHOM PENH, Cambodia – A Spanish man who is the prime suspect in the gruesome murder of a fellow Spaniard was arrested in Cambodia, where he is believed to have fled after the victim's dismembered body was recovered piece by piece from Bangkok's Chao Phraya River, police said Monday.
The suspect identified as Artur Segarra Princep, 36, was arrested Sunday evening at a restaurant in the Cambodian coastal town of Sihanoukville where he had checked into a guesthouse a few days earlier, said the regional police chief Gen. Chuon Narin.
"We received a request from Thai police to arrest this man, and after launching an investigation we found him," said Chuon Narin. "We will hand him over to Thailand."
Thai police have identified the victim as David Bernat of Spain, who was described as a consultant. They have speculated that he was abducted, tortured and forced to transfer a large amount of money before being killed.
Thai police sent a helicopter to Cambodia on Monday to try to expedite the suspect's return, said a senior Thai police official in Bangkok who attended a meeting at Bangkok police headquarters on the murder case. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Senior Thai police met Monday in Bangkok about the murder case. An official at the meeting said a helicopter was sent to Cambodia
Thai police have declined to publicly comment on media reports of large transfers of money from Bernat's bank account to accounts in Spain and Singapore.
Police had obtained records showing that Segarra had withdrawn money from ATM machines in the area as recently as Thursday, and also had video of him with an unidentified woman and in a black Isuzu pickup truck. Immigration police said Segarra has visited Thailand frequently, but his latest visa expired late last year.
Records show that Bernat also visited Thailand many times, arriving most recently on Jan. 19 on a flight from Iran. He was last seen alive leaving his Bangkok apartment on Jan. 20. Medical examiners said they believe he died between Jan. 25 and Jan. 27, with the cause being suffocation.
Thai media reports over the weekend said that Segarra's motorcycle was found at the Thai border, and a Thai woman described as his girlfriend was quoted saying that he fled Bangkok after seeing his picture on Thai television news reports.
Associated Press writers Nattasuda Anusonadisai and Jason Corben in Bangkok contributed to this report.