BANGKOK, Malaysia The alleged mastermind behind last year's brutal murder late last year in Johor Baharu, Malaysia might have thought becoming a Buddhist monk and leading a pious life in Thailand was perfect to mask his criminal past.

However, the 36-year-old suspect underestimated the keen eye of Thai police investigators whose relentless hunt for dangerous fugitives could give a blood hound a run for its money.

A large tattoo of the Christianity's Jesus Christ on his right arm turned out to be the 'smoking gun' that gave him away yesterday, to the investigators who wondered why a Buddhist monk would emblazon the tattoo of Jesus Christ on his hand.

The suspect probably thought his newly-embraced life of spirituality could serve as his saviour from the pursuit of the Malaysian and Thai authorities.

At first, we had doubts whether we had arrested the right man as he was quite thin in appearance as compared to a photo supplied to us by our Malaysian counterparts.

However, after spotting the large 'Phra Yesu' (Jesus Christ) tattoo on his right arm, we knew we got our man, a Thai investigator involved in yesterday's operation to arrest the suspect, told Bernama in an interview.

The officer who declined to be identified said the suspected mastermind had lost weight due to strict adherence of the Buddhist teachings which permitted him to have just one meal a day.

According to the investigator, the Malaysian was arrested along with his wife at a house inside a Buddhist temple compound in Chaiyaphum province about 7am yesterday, bringing to an end, a manhunt spanning about six months.

The man and his wife were detained while involved in a 'merit-making' ceremony in conjunction with the 'Visakha Bukha' Day or Wesak Day as it is known in Malaysia, one of the holiest days in Buddhism.

The suspect was alleged to have masterminded the murder of 44-year-old 'Ah Chiu' who was stabbed and mowed down by a BMW car at a petrol station in Taman Pelangi, Johor Baharu.

Since the incident, the Malaysian police have arrested several men and women as well as charged two people in court last February.

According to the officer, the man and his wife were apprehended while busy preparing to perform merit-making ceremony in conjunction with the 'Visakha Bukha' day or Wesak as it is known in Malaysia, one of the most holiest days in Buddhism.

The suspect who also spotted smaller tattoos on other parts of his body became a Buddhist monk for a month, beginning from January to February in a Petchabun temple, which also has a branch in Johor Baharu.

Later on, he moved to Chaiyaphum province which is located about 260km northeast of Bangkok where he led a quiet life in the temple, he said, adding that the man also donated large sums of money to the temples.

Meanwhile, Thailand's Tourist Police deputy chief, Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal said the suspect could only be extradited to Malaysia to face justice once he had completed his legal process here.

Source: NAM News Network