A former beauty contestant is among six suspects arrested over the abduction and 3.93-million-baht ransom of her wealthy former Chinese boyfriend.
Police said they will also face charges of robbery and computer crime.
The abduction was allegedly plotted by the former girlfriend and her Thai boyfriend, who had no job and liked gambling.
The six suspects, four men and two women, were arrested separately in Bangkok, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Pathum Thani provinces on Monday, police said.
The arrests followed a complaint filed with Lumpini police on April 15 by a Chinese man, Yu Jie, 30, that his friend Wang Nanfeng 33, had been abducted from a condominium room in Lumpini of Pathumwan district.
The suspects are Petchlada Sangsakun, 24, her Thai boyfriend Supaphon “Boss" or "Kai’’ Halman, 24, Natthaphat “Kob’’ Sawasdee, 27, Natthapong Khongkhamyu, 24, Ms Sarita Donmuang, 28, and another man identified only as Jo, aged 35-40 years.
Ms Petchlada, known as ”Nampech”, was a Miss Grand Suphan Buri contestant in 2020, and is the former girlfriend of the Chinese victim. She was placed fifth in the beauty pageant.
Police initially charged them with colluding in abduction, physical assault, extortion and illegal detention.
Pol Col Nimit Nuphothong, chief of Lumpini police, said on Tuesday that police have now pressed additional charges of colluding in robbery and computer crime against the suspects.
Some suspects had confessed to the charges, he said. Police had impounded the bank accounts of some of the suspects.
On Tuesday, one of the suspects, Mr Natthaphat, would be taken to the Bangkok South Criminal Court where police would apply to detain him for a further 12 days, he said. The five others were still being questioned, Pol Col Nimit said.
Further details of the investigation were being withheld while the investigation was extended, he said.
The complaint, Mr Yu, told police that he had been unable to contact his friend Mr Wang. His friend later contacted him via video call. He said not to file a police complaint as his abductors would free him after a ransom was paid.
However, Mr Yu said he noticed his friend had bruises on his face and he feared Mr Wang might be killed. This drove him to file the complaint.
Police investigators learned Mr Wang formerly had a Thai girlfriend, later identified as Ms Petchlada, or "Nampech". The relationship had lasted more than a year. He ended it about three months ago. The woman knew Mr Wang was wealthy and involved in a so-called “grey business’’, and allegedly abducted him for ransom with the help of the other suspects. (continues below)
Petchlada "Nampech" Sangsakun celebrates her birthday party in August last year. (Petchlada Sangsakun Facebook)
She believed he would not dare complain to police as he was wanted on an arrest warrant issued in his home country, China, according to police.
She allegedly plotted with her Thai boyfriend, Mr Supaphon, to abduct and hold Mr Wang for ransom.
Mr Supaphon and two other men - Mr Natthaphat and "Jo" - entered Mr Wang’s condominium room using a key card provided by Ms Petchlada.
The abductors had tied Mr Wang’s hands and feet and put him in a large plastic box which they put in a car and drove to Hua Hin district in Prachuap Khiri Khan, where they stayed for one night.
The men allegedly assaulted Mr Wang before making a video call to Mr Yu, demanding he transfer a total of 3.93 million baht to the bank accounts of Mr Nattthaphat and another woman accomplice, the suspect Ms Sarita.
After the money had been transferred, the gang freed Mr Wang at a restaurant in the resort town.
Earlier reports said he had caused a ruckus at the restaurant which led to him being arrested by police. Police began tracking down those involved and first arrested Mr Natthphat, and then Mr Natthaphong.
On Monday night, Mr Supaphon and his former beauty queen contestant girlfriend "Nampech" were arrested at a room in Thong Lor area of Bangkok. Police also impounded a BMW, which was earlier reported to have been given to the woman by the victim.
Police later arrested Ms Sarita at a car park behind Hua Hin police station and "Jo" at a house in Pathum Thani.
"Jo" was seen in security camera footage entering Mr Wang’s condominium room and pushing a cart with the plastic box with Mr Wang inside into the condominium’s lift. Earlier reports said the abductors had called the building security guard to help them move the box downstairs to the waiting car.
According to Thai media reports, Ms Petchlada had lately been working as a model and real estate agent.
She reportedly told police during questioning that her former Chinese boyfriend had been giving her 100,000 baht a month, while her Thai boyfriend had no permanent job and liked gambling.
She and her boyfriend had taken 1.6 million baht as their share of the ransom, the reports alleged.
On Tuesday, Mr Natthaphat said outside the court that he had confessed to the charges. He said he had learned the victim was wanted on an arrest warrant in China and was involved in an illegal business. He claimed he just wanted to help the country, but could not reveal who ordered him to do so.
He also said Ms Petchlada was not involved and said police should look into the money trail of the victim and his Chinese friends.
Relatives and friends of Ms Petchlada, accompanied by a lawyer, visited her at Lumpini police station around 11am on Tuesday. Her family refused to give any information to reporters, but a close friend of the suspect, who was not named, told reporters she did not believe Ms Petchlada would get involved. She claimed Ms Petchlada was with her on the day the abduction.