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Friday, March 5, 1999 Published at 14:07 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Thai snooker ace defies death threat

James Wattana, the world's 16th ranking player, played in the face of the threat

By Sports Correspondent Harry Peart

Sports officials in Thailand have confirmed that top Thai snooker player James Wattana was threatened with death if he beat his opponent during a tournament in Bangkok.

[ image: Mr Wattana lost to 4th ranking Ken Doherty]
Mr Wattana lost to 4th ranking Ken Doherty
The threat was issued by an unknown man, and has been traced to a public telephone in the Thai capital.

A Thai Snooker Association official, Sakda Rattanasuban, said the call was taken seriously by the authorities and Mr Wattana was given a plain clothes police escort, with extra police posted at the hotel where the tournament was being played.

Mr Wattana's mother asked her son to withdraw from the tournament.

He did not withdraw, but lost the match against a higher ranked player, Ken Doherty, who was unaware of the death threat.

The snooker ace believes the threat was connected with organised gambling.

Seven years ago his father was shot dead, and although the crime has not been solved, gambling is suspected to have played a part.

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