Pirates stole B120m, killed crew
- Published: 25 Oct 2013 at 17.30
- Online news:
Four alleged pirates believed to be members of a gang that boarded a boat off Pattani, killed the crew and got away with about 120 million baht in cash have been arrested, police said on Friday.
The four arrested accused pirates and killers (from left) Thawee Nitpran, Phan Sangthong, Prasert Somchuay and Samphan Wannurat. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Tangthai Banmahing, a representative of the money changing firm Sahasup International reported the robbery in Thailand's territorial waters to the Crime Suppression Division on Oct 9, CSD chief Supisarn Bhakdinarinath said on Friday.
Ms Tangthai told the police that on Oct 2 the company put 2.6 million Singapore dollars (around 65 million baht) and 5.6 million Malaysian ringgit (around 54.88 million baht) on board the boat, which was to deliver the cash to customers. There were a total of eight people on the vessel.
When the boat arrived in waters off Nong Jik district of Pattani on its way to deliver the money to a major client on an island, the company’s radio centre was notified that a speed boat had approached the vessel with armed men on board who had opened fire at them. The crew reported they were under attack. When the company tried to call them back, there was no reply.
The pirates took all the money that was on board, according to Ms Tangthai.
Pol Maj Gen Supisarn said investigators had checked out currency exchange shops in southern provinces. They found out that banknotes with the company's codemark on them been exchanged at one shop.
Police reviewed the closed-circuit camera footage from the shop and identified a suspect who was a former employee of the company and had been fired.
Investigators then determined that the pirate gang comprised a former captain and crewmen from the vessel who were all previously fired. They were angry and plotted the robbery in revenge.
The group contacted a friend who was still working for the company and he became their accomplice.
When the pirates approached the boat and opened fire, the accomplice urged the other crew to abandon the boat and then jumped into the sea. They followed him.
The pirates then made off with the money they knew would be on board, picked up their accomplice from the sea and killed the other seven crewmen, Pol Maj Gen Supisarn said.
They also later sank the company’s boat and burned the speedboat they used to destroy the evidence. The police so far have not yet found the bodies of the missing seven crewmen but assumed that they all were dead.
The police then sought arrest warrants for eight men on charges of armed robbery and intent to kill.
Finally, four men were arrested in Pattani and Songkhla on Thursday. They are Thawee Nitpran, 44, who is a former captain, Phan Sangthong, 45, Prasert Somchuay, 47 and Samphan Wannurat, 47. They confessed to committing the crime.
Police said four other suspected pirates remained at large and were being hunted down. They are Kittipitch Thipkonglas, Kasem Khanpan, Arkhom Poonchana and Somyos Sudluea.
A total of 40 million baht of the loot has been recovered. Police are interrogating the suspects to get back more of the stolen money.