Thai police officer admits to killing Leo Del Pinto in 2008
Published Wednesday, August 7, 2013 1:34PM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:50PM MDT
The father of a Calgary man who was killed in Thailand five years ago says the suspect has pleaded guilty.
Leo Del Pinto, 24, died after being shot in the face and chest in the northern Thailand town of Pai in January 2008.
Del Pinto was on vacation when he was shot by off duty police officer, Uthai Dechawiwat.
His friend, Carly Reisig of British Columbia, was also hit once in the chest but survived.
Leo’s father, Ernie Del Pinto says he received a letter from Canadian Foreign Affairs informing him that Sgt. Dechawiwat had changed his plea to guilty from not guilty.
"There's no way that this person is going to get away with killing my son without paying the consequences for what he has done," said Ernie. "I said no way, I'm not giving up."
Dechawiwat was charged with murder with intent and attempted murder with intent in the shooting of Del Pinto and Reisig.
In January 2011, Dechawiwat was sentenced to 25 years in jail for killing his pregnant wife.
Ernie Del Pinto has been working to get justice for his son since his murder.
"It's hard to fight another country. To get justice for your kid. Especially when he's done nothing wrong," said Ernie. "I'm happy in a way that it's come to an end. Leo will never leave our minds, our hearts but now it's kinda time to move on with the family. Now it's not about Leo anymore, it's about other children, other kids that travel abroad."
He says he has struggled for five years with both the Canadian and Thai governments to get information about his son's case.
He is now leading the charge to educate others about travelling abroad.
"If they travel, they've got to understand where they are travelling to. The laws, the religion, if needed. Go as groups. Keep an eye on each other's backs," said Ernie. "There's parents that are in my shoes. That have just kinda given up maybe or they don't have the resources to go to. Well if they don't have the resources to go to, they have to find the resources to go to just like I found them and I'm putting the word out there, if there's families out there that need help, I'll help them the best I can at least to give them direction on where to go."
The Del Pinto’s will fly to Thailand to attend the August 20 sentencing.
(With files from Kathy Le)