An Australian man arrested with a pistol and 96 rounds in his bag at Samui airport in Surat Thani province told police he bought the firearm for self defence from a Thai on Koh Samui.
Mark Bassal, 41, who has an Australian passport, was arrested at the island’s airport in tambon Bophut around 1pm on Wednesday, Pol Col Suparuek Phankosol, superintendent of Surat Thani immigration police, said on Thursday.
He was detained after an X-ray showed parts of a disassembled gun-like object in some of the seven bags he and his family were carrying.
Immigration officers and local police arrested Mr Bassal and charged him with illegal possession of firearm parts and ammunition. They seized the gun parts and 96 cartridges.
During questioning, Mr Bassal allegedly said he bought the pistol and ammunition from a Thai man at a shop in tambon Bophut on Koh Samui. He said it was for self-defence while travelling. He was handed over to Bophut police station for legal action.
Pol Col Suparuek said police were still questioning the man, who was travelling with his wife and their three children. They had tickets for a Thai Airways International flight from Samui to Suvarnabhumi airport. Police said the family might have intended to travel to Singapore and Australia, but they had not yet found tickets to those destinations.
At this stage, police investigators had not found any evidence that the suspect would use the weapon to commit a crime, nor was he a criminal or transnational mafia figure, Pol Col Suparuek said.
The dissambled pistol and cartridges are found in the travel bags of the 41-year-old Australian man during a search at Samui airport in Surat Thani. (Photo supplied/ Wassayos Ngamkham)