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Police deny Suphoth heist leader held in Laos

Dec 03. 2011
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By Thawee Aphisakulchat,
Sompho

The alleged ringleader of the robbery at suspended Transport permanent secretary Suphoth Sublom's home has been held by Laotian police since Tuesday, according to people who claimed to have witnessed the arrest - a claim promptly denied by Thai police.

Weerasak Cheulee was arrested on November 29 in the downtown area of Tha Khaek City in the Laotian province of Khammouane, residents of the city said yesterday.

They said Weerasak was arrested at an intersection after taking a van licensed in the Laotian province of Savannakhet to the city and exchanging baht for Laotian currency. They said the fugitive was followed by police and put into a car after his arrest.

A person working at the money-exchange outlet, who asked not to be named, said that during the arrest there were many onlookers, and that several people in the area had confirmed that it was Weerasak who was arrested. Those people said they had followed news of the robbery in the Thai media.

Reporters of Kom Chad Luek, a sister publication of The Nation, visited Tha Khaek City yesterday to follow up on developments in the cooperation between Thai and Laotian authorities in the hunt for Weerasak, who reportedly fled to Laos after last month’s heist.

Thai police, however, dismissed as groundless the reports that Weerasak had been arrested in Laos.

Provincial Police Region 4 investigation deputy commander Pol Colonel Yanyong Vecha-osot yesterday described the reported arrest as a rumour that had been going around for days.

He said Thai police were working in several teams, including with Laotian police, to hunt for Weerasak, had obtained useful leads and were monitoring communications between people believed to have assisted him. He believed Weerasak would be arrested soon, but admitted that police faced some obstacles due to rumours emerging from Laos.

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