'Crypto kidnapper' turns himself in

'Crypto kidnapper' turns himself in

Last of four suspects reports to police in Pattaya

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 the police about surrendering at a petrol station in Pattaya.

Police yesterday took him to the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases to seek the first round of his detention. The officers opposed bail.

The suspect arrived with his girlfriend, Thanyaporn Phatthanothai, before being taken to Din Daeng police station in Bangkok about 10.40pm for questioning, Pol Maj Gen Noppasil Phoonsawat, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said.

Pol Maj Jiraphat was one of the four immigration officers named in arrest warrants issued by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases 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, a police 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 his 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 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, said the Din Daeng police chief.

The woman confessed to the charges and was to be taken to Don Muang Khwang Court yesterday, said Pol Col Narawut.

On Monday, a Chinese man, who was not named, and his 38-year-old interpreter Namsee Sae Lee filed a complaint with Din Daeng police.

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 payment for their release, paid in Tether (USDT), a cryptocurrency stablecoin pegged to the United States dollar. The amount paid was USDT30,000 (about 1.02 million baht). Subsequent reports in Thai media put the amount as high as 10 million baht.

Police questioning of the victims led to arrest warrants being issued for the four officers.

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