Probe begins for alleged Israeli killer's missing wife
The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has launched an investigation into the missing Thai wife of an Israeli man who allegedly murdered his compatriot and hid the dismembered body parts inside a wall in the couple's Nonthaburi home.
Nantiya Saengurai, 37, the wife of Israeli suspect Shimon Biton, who allegedly murdered Eliyahu Cohen, a 63-year-old Israeli former police officer, has been missing for over a year, said her father.
Anan Saengurai, 62, fearing for his daughter's safety, lodged a petition with the CSD urging the agency to find his daughter.
- Earlier report: Father fears for daughter's safety
The petition was received by Pol Col Jirapop Phuridej and Pol Col Arun Wachirasrisukanya, superintendents of the CSD.
The plot got considerably thicker on Monday.
Biton is an ex-convict who was jailed for 10 years in 2000 for disposing of a body in a murder case. He was initially charged with the murder of another Israeli, but the prosecutor reduced the charges.
According to the Jerusalem Post Biton is also "known to be involved in drug trafficking".
NOTE: An earlier version of this story referred to a murder in Thailand by Eli Cohen. Israeli spokesmen say that convicted murderer, also named Eli Cohen, and the murder victim in the Biton case are different people. We regret the error.
Biton, now 53, was detained at the Phattharawan housing estate in Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong district on Saturday after police discovered three bags containing body parts hidden inside a wall during a raid on his house.
Police believed the dismembered body was Cohen's.
According to Mr Anan, Ms Nantiya met Mr Biton on Khao San Road in Bangkok and they lived as a couple for over 20 years. They also have a 17-year-old son who police believe may have colluded with his father in concealing Cohen's body.
After hearing about the arrest of Biton, Mr Anan went to Bang Bua Thong police station Monday to inquire about his daughter.
According to police, Biton said Ms Nantiya was nabbed by Lao authorities at the Nong Khai border checkpoint for drug-related offences. Mr Anan then contacted the Lao embassy in Bangkok but obtained no information about the arrest of his daughter.
Mr Anan said his grandson told him that Biton had forced Ms Nantiya out of the house because she had stolen money from him.
Mr Anan doubted this story given that his daughter raised her son by herself when Biton was jailed in the 2000 murder case. Ms Nantiya even took him to get his ID card made at a district office, said her father.
According to police records, Ms Nantiya has committed drug offences in Thailand.
Pol Col Jirapop said the probe will be jointly conducted by CSD's subdivisions 1 and 2, adding he instructed authorities to gather as much evidence as possible relating to Biton.
The agency also worked with the Israeli embassy to examine Biton's passport after police suspected his name may have been changed several times.
Pol Col Jirapop also ordered authorities to re-investigate a case in 2000 in which Biton was convicted in a murder case of another Israeli. He was not charged with the murder, but was convicted with dumping the dead body into the Mae Klong River.
Pol Col Arun said at the time Biton was sentenced for the murder, Ms Nantiya was three months pregnant.
Police said checks with the Lao embassy found Ms Nantiya had never entered the country; however, Biton and his son travelled to Laos together from Sept 9 to 12.
Pol Col Arun said he instructed investigators to inspect Biton's rented house in Bang Kruai district of Nonthaburi where he lived with Ms Nantiya and his son before they moved to the house in Bang Bua Thong district, also in the same province.
The owner of the house in Bang Kruai district will also be asked to verify whether the structure and landscape of the house have been altered, he said.
The CSD will also seek cooperation from Kasetsart University on procuring equipment to examine the soil in the house which may contain small fragments of human bones, he said.
The CSD investigators also found irregularities in Biton's bank account, into which 200,000 baht had been wired from a Russian man in Pattaya.
The CSD will further examine the money trail of both Biton and his son to discover whether they are linked to other crimes.
Both are in police custody after the Nonthaburi Provincial Court and the Nonthaburi Juvenile and Family Court approved their detention requests submitted by police. DNA samples were also collected from Biton, who will be questioned further.
Earlier, his son, who is a minor, was charged with helping his father conceal Cohen's body and stealing credit cards and documents allegedly belonging to Cohen. The son told investigators his father had killed a man, but did not witness it, according to Pol Maj Gen Susak Prakkamakul, commander of Nonthaburi Provincial Police.