Govt assures fugitive will be caught

Govt assures fugitive will be caught

Chaowalit Thongduang, a 37-year-old prisoner, escaped from Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital on Oct 22. (Screenshot)
Chaowalit Thongduang, a 37-year-old prisoner, escaped from Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital on Oct 22. (Screenshot)

The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) confirmed on Tuesday that Thailand has an extradition treaty with Indonesia following an unconfirmed report that high-profile fugitive Chaowalit Thongduang may have fled to the Southeast Asian nation.

OAG spokesman Prayuth Phetkhun said the attorney-general is authorised to seek the extradition of any inmates who have fled overseas after police verify their whereabouts.

In Chaowalit's case, the Royal Thai Police, which is responsible for capturing him, must locate him and confirm his whereabouts. Once this is done, the national police chief can then ask the attorney-general to initiate his extradition.

If Thailand has an extradition treaty with the country in which the inmate is hiding then the OAG can proceed, he said, adding Thailand also has an extradition treaty with Malaysia, another possible destination for Chaowalit.

If he fled to a country that has no extradition treaty with Thailand, Mr Prayuth said Thai authorities can seek his extradition under a reciprocal arrangement through the Foreign Ministry.

Mr Prayuth was giving information about how to bring back Chaowalit, alias "Sia Paeng Nanod", after the unconfirmed report suggested he may have fled, possibly to Indonesia. The inmate reportedly travelled via Satun's La Ngu district on a speedboat.

Chaowalit, who was serving time for attempted murder and faced multiple other criminal charges, has remained at large since fleeing from Maharaj Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital on Oct 22 where he was taken for dental treatment.

He took flight into the Banthad mountain range, which stretches across Phatthalung, Trang, and Satun provinces.

Despite a massive manhunt, he managed to evade capture and released video clips in which he claimed he was unfairly treated and he was the only person sentenced despite numerous other suspects being involved. He also claimed his appeal for bail had not been handled fairly.

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