Australian sentenced to death in Thailand for drug killing

PATTAYA, Thailand (AP) " A Thai court on Tuesday sentenced an Australian man to death for the murder of a countryman who was an alleged confederate in a drug smuggling gang.

The Pattaya Provincial Court on found Antonio Bagnato, 28, guilty of killing former Hells Angels member Wayne Schneider in November 2015 after he and accomplices beat and kidnapped the victim from his luxury villa in the resort area. Bagnato fled to Cambodia where he was arrested soon after the crime.

Eyewitness accounts and DNA evidence from bloodstains and weapons linked Bagnato to the crime. American Tyler Gerard, 22, who confessed to involvement in the abduction and aided police, was sentenced to three years imprisonment. Other accomplices who were seen by guards at the housing estate where the attack took place were not apprehended.

Thai police say Bagnato murdered Schneider because of a dispute over their drug trafficking network, which was said to stretch from Europe to Asia and net millions of dollars.

Thailand rarely carries out the death penalty.

Police had an early break in their investigation because the guards who witnessed the abduction helped police identify the getaway vehicle, which was rented and had a GPS system.

Tracking the route of the vehicle led police to Schneider's buried body.

Pattaya is a seaside town notorious for corruption and prostitution, and its visitors and expatriate residents include underworld figures from many countries.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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