'Fake death' woman surrenders
The Songkhla woman who allegedly faked her death to escape imprisonment for planning the murder of her son's fiancee turned herself in to police Tuesday.
Juree Jan-ngam, 72, of Chumphon's Tha Sae district, however, maintained her innocence as she surrendered at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD). She would be handed over to Songkhla court, where she had been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Juree was released on bail while the case was pending an appeal with the Supreme Court. In February last year, her family lodged a petition with the court seeking dismissal of the case on the ground that she had died. Juree was charged and indicted with arranging the contract killing of her son's fiancee, Riewprae Chotikarn, 26, a pharmacist who was three months pregnant, in Songkhla province on Dec 13, 2007. Narin Janchay, 36, the alleged gunman, was arrested and indicted.
Riewprae's assistant, Adison Pratheeptas, was also killed by stray bullets in the shooting at a clinic in Khuan Niang district of Songkhla. The shooting took place about two weeks before the planned wedding on Dec 29 the same year with Juree's son, Wikrom Jan-ngam, 36.
The Criminal Court found the pair guilty of murder and sentenced them to death. The Court of Appeal stood by the decision and released Juree on five-million-baht bail as the case went to the Supreme Court. Narin remained behind bars pending appeal.
In February last year, Rassamee Jan-ngam, Juree's daughter, petitioned the court to dismiss the case, claiming her mother was dead. She had a death certificate issued by Tha Sae district authorities and claimed the body was cremated at Wat Maneesop. However, Ruedeemas Singmanee, the mother of the victim, lodged a complaint with the CSD to investigate the claim. Police became suspicious that Juree faked her death.
The prosecution challenged Ms Rassamee's petition and asked the court to question six witnesses including the temple undertaker. The witnesses told the court no funeral was held. Tha Sae district authorities claimed the death certificate was issued by a village headman who verified the death.
The court ruled she was not dead and intentionally jumped bail. The Supreme Court later issued a ruling in her absence, finding her guilty as charged but commuting the death sentence to life.
CSD police chief Akkaradet Pimolsri said Tuesday that after police stepped up efforts to hunt down Juree, her family made contact saying she would surrender.