Thailand jails fugitive for Japan murder

The Criminal Court on Monday sentenced a former host bar worker to nine years in prison for the murder of a Japanese woman more than 19 years ago.

  • Published: 30/09/2013 at 03:35 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Veerasak Iempongsa, 40, from Trang, was apprehended in Nakhon Si Thammarat in October 2012, just five months before the statute of limitations on the charges against him would have expired in March this year.

He was wanted by Japanese authorities for the murder of Awaji Megumi, 33, at her home in Youkawa Building in Tokyo's Toshima ward on March 14, 1993, when Mr Veerasak, then 19-years-old, worked as a bar host in Shinjuku.

The Criminal Court on Monday sentenced Veerasak Iempongsa to nine years in prison for the murder of a Japanese woman more than 19 years ago. (Bangkok Post file photo)

It is the first case in which Thailand has issued an arrest warrant for a Thai suspect who committed a crime outside the country, after Japanese police sought help to arrest the fleeing suspect in April last year.  

Japanese police passed the case and evidence over to their Thai counterparts, who decided to try and prosecute the suspect for the murder.

In 1993, Veerasak worked as a host at a bar in Japan where female customers pay for male company. He met Megumi there and she invited him to stay with her in her apartment.

The pair allegedly had an argument after he had been staying with her for four or five days. Veerasak claimed she was hot-tempered and would shout at him when she felt upset.

He said Megumi had lost a lot of money gambling on the day he killed her. She allegedly ridiculed him for being a sex worker, spat on him and called him a street dog. 

According to police, this drove him to stab her in the neck and strangle her with a belt, then flee with her cash and valuables.

During 19 years on the run, he worked informally as a hired hand in several provinces in Thailand and in Cambodia.

After his arrest last year, Veerasak said he would not hire a lawyer to defend him, but would confess to his crime before the court.  

The court initially sentenced him to 18 years in prison, but the sentence was reduced because of his confession. 

Thailand and Japan have a bilateral agreement which allows nationals convicted of crimes in each other's countries to serve out their sentences at home, but this case is the first in which a Thai criminal has been convicted in a Thai court for a crime carried out in Japan.

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