The victim was 54-year-old Khuan Phokaeng from Maha Sarakham Province. He had been stabbed about 10 times, the Bangkok Post reported (also at Bangkok Pundit). The body was found on the back seat of the pink taxi. Two sharp knives were found nearby.
Polwat Chino, a 12th-grade schoolboy, admits to the killing. He said he was trying to score some cash in order to play
I needed money to play the game every day. My parents give me only 100 baht a day, which is not enough. I am also fed up with them fighting. They are civil servants and do not make good money."
"My mother gave me 500 baht, so in the evening I went to the Tesco Lotus superstore and bought two knives."
Polwat said he chose Khuan's taxi because it didn't look like the man would put up a struggle. But the driver reached for a metal bar, and Polwat stabbed him. The driver sounded his horn and then tried to escape on foot, but collapsed nearby. Polwat dragged the wounded man back to the cab and put him in the backseat. The boy then tried unsuccessfully to drive off, but couldn't because he didn't know how, according to the Daily Xpress. When police arrived, Polwat was trying to steer the taxi backwards on a dead-end street.
I remember everything from the game. It's an easy game and easy to get money."
In the aftermath of the grisly, videogame-inspired killing, Grand Theft Auto's distributor, New Era Interactive Media, said it would pull the game from the shelves, according to reports from BBC and Reuters.
A flood of criticism has arisen from police and government officials.
This time-bomb has already exploded and the situation could get worse,” Ladda Thangsupachai, director of the [Culture] Ministry’s Cultural Surveillance Centre, told Reuters. “Today it is a cab driver, but tomorrow it could be a video game shop owner.”
The ministry has been pushing for tougher regulation of video games such as Grand Theft Auto, including the imposition of a rating system on sales and restriction on hours that youngsters can play the games in public arcades.
Social advocates say creators of the games should be held liable for copycat crimes. A lawsuit filed in Alabama in 2005 has been cited as an example. Here's more from today's Daily Xpress:
When a player copycats a crime he or she sees in the game, the game maker should be prosecuted,” says Somchai Jaroen-amnuaysuk, the deputy director of the Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups Office.
"Prosecutions will automatically force game makers to act more responsibly."
Dr Somprot Sarakosas, a former spokesman of the Human Security and Social Development Ministry, agrees the government should explore legal avenues against parties responsible for such violence.
"At the same time, everyone, especially the Education Ministry, should make children aware that games and real life are two different things."
National Culture Commission chief Preecha Gunteeya says the government has to do something to control violence-packed games, including imposing a rating system.
"We must regulate gaming cafes, too" he says.
The boy’s mother told the Daily Xpress she’s sorry for her son’s actions:
From now on I will take better care of him. I want to encourage other parents to do likewise.”
But Polwat faces death by lethal injection if convicted.
The taxi driver was a family breadwinner, working to pay off loans from a bank and loan sharks, the Bangkok Post said. The man's son, 25-year-old Manon Pohkang, was quoted:
He was a nice man, who harmed no one."