Saudi gem killer Chalor freed

Saudi gem killer Chalor freed

After spending almost 20 years behind bars, Chalor Kerdthes walked out of Bang Kwang Prison at 2pm on Friday in a low-profile event with only his daughter waiting to celebrate his long-sought freedom.

Ex-police general and murderer Chalor Kerdthes is released from Bang Kwang Prison on Friday after his third probation request. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Prison chief Wasant Singkasaelit said on Saturday that the former deputy police chief was freed on condition that he report to probation officials at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road every month.

The former police major-general, now 70, was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2009 for murdering Darawadee Srithanakhan, the wife of a gem trader, and her son Seri. The sentence was reduced to 50 years a year later.

Chalor had been in custody since shortly after the 1994 slaying, which was linked to the theft of jewellery and valuables worth more than 500 million baht from Saudi Arabia by Thai janitor Kriangkrai Techamong, who was working at the palace of Prince Faisal in 1989.

Chalor and his associates were ordered to track down the stolen items but it turned out that he had been found embezzling the confiscated jewellery, extorting 4.86 million baht from gem trader Santi Srithanakhan, who allegedly bought some of the jewels, in addition to killing his wife and son.

The case has soured ties with Saudi Arabia for more than two decades. Some jewels, including the real Blue Diamond, have never been returned.

It was only this year that the criminal trial began of five policemen implicated in the 1990 disappearance of Saudi businessman Mohammad al-Ruwaili, who was believed to be linked to the gems case.

Chalor was stripped of his police rank in 2010 while he was serving his jail term.

Charnchao Chaiyunukit, deputy permanent secretary for justice, said on Saturday that Chalor was released after his third request to a committee responsible for reviewing leniency pleas.

The panel comprising representatives from 10 government agencies agreed in September to his plea as it was met the conditions, Mr Charnchao said.

Chalor was well behaved, Mr Charnchao said. He had a chronic illness and was considered an ageing inmate as he was over 70 years old, the official added.

Chalor is one of 600 inmates allowed to leave prison despite not having completed their sentences. All would have to serve their remaining terms if they commit a crime after release, he added.

The former police officer had made a similar request twice before but was denied.

Corrections Department director-general Suchart Wongananchai said on Saturday that the prison also supported his release given his health, age and time spent in jail.

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