A former beauty contestant charged over the abduction and a ransom of her wealthy Chinese boyfriend has denied any involvement, but police say they have firm evidence against her.
Petchlada Sangsakun, 24, and four other suspects were questioned by investigators at Lumpini police station on Tuesday night.
Pol Maj Gen Thawatkiart Chindakhuansanong, commander of the Metropolitan Police Division 6, said on Wednesday that all four of them gave useful statements. Ms Petchalada still denied any involvement.
The five were among six suspects arrested separately in Bangkok, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Pathum Thani provinces on Monday following the abduction and 3.93 million baht ransom of Wang Nanfeng, 33.
Ms Petchlada, known as ”Nampech”, was a Miss Grand Suphan Buri contestant in 2020, and is the girlfriend of the Chinese victim. She is reported to work as a model and real estate agent.
The arrests followed a complaint filed with Lumpini police on April 15 by a Chinese man, Yu Jie, 30, that his friend Wang Nanfeng had been abducted from a condominium room in Lumpini in Bangkok.
The suspects are Ms Petchlada, 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. Mr Natthaphat was indicted in Bangkok South Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Ms Petchlada kept denying any involvement, Pol Maj Gen Thawatkiart said, but there was evidence linking her to the offence, including chat conversations.
He said the money trail had not yet been linked to her, but investigators had enough evidence to get a court warrant for her arrest.
A woman who said she was a close friend, claimed on Tuesday that Ms Petchalda went to file a missing person report with Lumpini police after her Chinese boyfriend Wang disappeared. She said police did not accept the case because the man had not been missing for 24 hours. She did not believe Ms Petchlada was involved.
Pol Maj Gen Thawatkiart said on Wednesday the two women did go to Lumpini police station, as the woman said. However, Mr Wang’s Chinese friend had by then already filed a missing person report with police, he explained.
It was not true that police did not accept her report because Mr Wang had not been missing for at least 24 hours. Police were duty-bound to accept a missing person report and investigate it immediately, to prevent greater danger to the victim.
According to the police commander, investigators went to examined security camera recordings at the condominium immediately after receiving the complaint filed by Mr Wang’s friend.
Investigators had impounded the victim’s Mercedes Benz for examination, as it was used for the abduction, he said. They would also investigate how Mr Supaphon, Ms Petchlada’s Thai boyfriend, obtained the car's ignition key so Mr Natthaphat could drive it and the victim to Prachuap Khiri Khan. The victim was tied up and crammed into a plastic box that was then placed inside the car.
Security camera footage showed one of the suspects entering Mr Wang’s condominium room and emerge pushing a cart and plastic box into the condominium’s lift.
After 3.93 million baht ransom was paid, the gang freed Mr Wang at a restaurant in Hua Hin.
According to Pol Maj Gen Thawatkiart, the money trail had so far implicated Mr Natthaphat and Ms Sarita. Investigators believed only the six suspects were involved.
He said greed was the most likely motive.
Ms Petchlada’s friend had claimed on Tuesday that Mr Supaphon had plotted the abduction because he was jealous and had gambling debts to pay off.
On Tuesday, one suspect, Mr Natthaphat, claimed outside the court that he just wanted to help the country after learning that Mr Wang was involved in an illegal business and that he was a wanted for fraud in China.
Pol Maj Gen Thawatkiart said it was a mere accusation by the suspect. However, police would look into the victim's past and whether he was wanted on an arrest warrant in China.
Police would take the five unarraigned suspects to Bangkok South Criminal Court on Wednesday afternoon and indict them. Police would oppose bail, he said.