Fourth immigration cop wanted for alleged kidnapping will surrender soon: ‘Big Joke’
Deputy National Police Chief Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn is confident that the last immigration police officer wanted over the kidnapping of a Chinese national and his female interpreter will surrender soon after three of his colleagues were arrested on Tuesday.
The four suspects allegedly demanded a ransom of over 2 million baht in cryptocurrency in return for releasing the Chinese man during a botched passport-renewal scam at the Chaengwattana government complex in Bangkok earlier this month.
The case is the latest in a series of scandals to have hit a Royal Thai Police force which is itself accused of rampant criminality.
More than 100 immigration officers are already facing possible bribery charges after allegedly helping thousands of Chinese to enter the country illegally to set up criminal enterprises.
The three immigration police officers arrested and in custody over the latest case were named as Major Sorawit Inlap, Lieutenant Suriya Rukkhachart, and Senior Sergeant Major Pheerasak Yimphaibul.
The wanted individual was named as Police Major Jiraphat Boonnam. All four officers work at Immigration Police Division 1.
Surachate said the three were interrogated before being charged with extortion and misconduct on duty. They will today be sent to holding cells at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases ahead of their hearing.
Police are also looking for another suspect, believed to be a Thai civilian, who is thought to have aided the kidnapping.
The arrests came in response to a complaint filed at Din Daeng police station on Monday by the Chinese national’s interpreter, a 38-year-old Thai woman identified only as Ms A.
The interpreter told police that a Chinese man, identified as Tilung, 62, asked her to meet him at his residence in Soi Pracha Songkhro 2, Din Daeng district on March 10 to help him renew his passport and visa at Chaengwattana government complex.
She said a friend of Tilung’s drove them to the government complex, but the group returned to Tilung's home after Chaengwattana Immigration rejected his documents.
Ms A alleges that she and Tilung were then kidnapped by five suspects who turned up at the house in three cars. She said Tilung's driver-friend assisted the suspects.
The suspects then drove the pair around Chaengwattana for 4-5 hours before sending Tilung and Ms A back to Soi Pracha Songkhro 2 at night, she said.
Ms A said Tilung admitted the suspects had asked for 60,000 in USDT cryptocurrency (just over 2 million baht) to process his fraudulent application to stay in Thailand. Tilung eventually negotiated a fee of 30,000 USDT, which he reportedly asked his son to transfer to the suspects via the imToken application.
Ms A said she had lost contact with Tilung after he fled to China.
She said she contacted the police because she feared for her own safety. She said powerful government officials may be involved in the case.
Police checked Tilung's history and found that he was using the Thai ID card of a Samut Prakan resident named Saroj Thongkhamai, 55, to perform transactions in Thailand.
They said they would investigate to find whether Saroj was still alive and how Tilung had obtained his ID card.