Immigration officer wanted for abduction, extortion surrenders
Fourth and final suspect remanded in custody in case involving Chinese and Thai victims
published : 25 Mar 2023 at 11:41
updated: 25 Mar 2023 at 17:53
A senior immigration officer, the fourth and final suspect wanted for the abduction and cryptocurrency extortion of a Chinese man and his Thai interpreter, turned himself in to police in Pattaya on Friday night.
Pol Maj Jiraphat Boonnam, a police inspector attached to Immigration Division 1, contacted police to surrender at a petrol station in Pattaya.
The suspect arrived with his girlfriend, Thanyaporn Phatthanothai, before being taken to the Din Daeng police station in Bangkok at around 10.40pm for questioning, Pol Maj Gen Noppasil Phoonsawat, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said on Saturday.
Police on Saturday took him to the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases to seek his detention for an initial 12-day period while they continue their investigations. He did not apply for bail and was taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison after the court approved the police request.
Pol Maj Jiraphat was one of four immigration officers named in arrest warrants for colluding in illegal detention, depriving others of their freedom, coercion with threats to life or body, and abuse of authority.
The three other suspects — Pol Maj Sorawit Inlab, an inspector at Immigration Division 1; Pol Lt Suriya Rukkhachart, a deputy investigator; and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Peerasak Yimbaiboon — surrendered earlier.
Pol Col Narawut Raksawong, chief of Din Daeng police, said Pol Maj Jiraphat looked stressed during the questioning on Friday night. The officer denied all charges and said he would testify before the court.
His girlfriend was charged with sheltering or helping the suspect in violation of Section 189 of the Criminal Code, said Pol Col Narawut. She was handed over to Thung Song Hong police as she had picked up her boyfriend at the Immigration Division 1 office, an area under the jurisdiction of Thung Song Hong police, to help him escape arrest earlier, said the Din Daeng police chief.
The woman confessed to the charges and was to be taken to the Don Muang Khwang Court on Saturday, said Pol Col Narawut.
Earlier, a Chinese man, who was not named, and his 38-year-old interpreter Namsee Sae Lee filed a complaint with Din Daeng police on March 20.
They said a group of men abducted them from a house in Din Daeng and took them in a car to another house in Soi Prachasongkroh 2, also in Din Daeng, on March 10.
The men demanded the victims pay for their release in Tether (USDT), a cryptocurrency stablecoin pegged to the United States dollar. The amount paid was reportedly 30,000 USDT, worth about 1.02 million baht.
Police questioning of the victims led to the issuance of arrest warrants for the four officers.
A security camera image shows a group of men taking a Chinese man and his Thai interpreter from a house in Bangkok's Din Daeng area on March 10, 2023, for extortion. (Photo supplied)