Police accused in Italian tourist shakedown

Two of four policemen accused of kidnapping two Italian nationals for ransom were arrested Friday, police said.

Metropolitan Police Division 5 commander Suebsak Pansuri said the two arrested suspects were attached to Thong Lor police station with both holding the rank of police lieutenant.

The other officers who fled were attached to Lumpini police station with the ranks of police sergeant major and police senior sergeant major, he added.

Pol Maj Gen Prinya Chansuriya, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said the suspects on Monday threatened to take legal action against Danilo De Vito, 51, and Antonio Di Muro, 62, after allegedly accusing the Italians of using a fake card to withdraw cash at an ATM in Bangkok's Nana area.

The incident happened hours after the victims flew to Thailand on holiday.

Lumpini police chief Chaiya Kongsap said the suspects demanded 2 million baht from the victims in exchange for not filing charges. The Italians negotiated a 25,000-euro (1.06 million baht) payment, Pol Lt Col Chaiya said, adding that the men were then held in a hotel room in Sukhumvit Soi 57.

He said the suspects on Tuesday forced the victims to phone their families in Italy to ask for money to be transferred.

The Italians took the opportunity to tell their relatives about the ransom.

The relatives then notified the Italian authorities and the Italian embassy in Bangkok informed local police about the incident, Pol Lt Col Chaiya said.

Police then found and freed the captives. The suspects fled before officers arrived, he said.

An Uzbekistani was found to be involved in the kidnapping gang and he remained at large, Pol Maj Gen Suebsak said.