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Thai Police Question Thai Woman in Suspicious Disappearance of Japanese Husband

Police examine a Bangkok apartment rented by Yoshinori Tetsuo, inset, who has disappeared. They are trying to determine if the 79-year-old met with foul play at the hands of his Thai wife.

Police examine a Bangkok apartment rented by Yoshinori Tetsuo, inset, who has disappeared. They are trying to determine if the 79-year-old met with foul play at the hands of his Thai wife. – Nation Photo

 

BANGKOK – Police have summoned Phornchanok Chaiyapawoman for further questioning over the alleged disappearance of her elderly Japanese husband, after learning that her previous husband, also Japanese, died from a fall down the staircase 12 years ago.

Police also wish to interrogate her about several suspicious withdrawals she made from the missing man’s bank account via an ATM card that is in her possession.

The disappearance of Yoshinori Tetsuo, 79, was reported at Bangkok’s Huai Khwang district police station on September 21 by his son Shimato, who said he had not heard from his father since September 4. After filing the complaint, the son visited his father’s apartment this Tuesday with police officers and asked for it to be opened, only to find Phornchanok Chaiyapa, 47, in the room.

Damrong Sudjanthuek, a security guard at Sri Wara Mansion 2 in Huai Khwang, said Phornchanok avoided answering his questions and only said she had come to collect her husband’s belongings. Phornchanok then spoke to Shimato in Japanese, apparently to explain his father’s whereabouts, before police took her away.

According to Huai Khwang police, Phornchanok is now living with her fourth husband, a taxi driver, and has two criminal records – an arrest warrant was issued for her in 2004 for assault and she faces embezzlement charges at an unknown date.

She had previously married businessman Kasitosi Tanaka in 2002 and had a daughter with him. Soon after the marriage, he was reported to have died from a fall down the staircase in their Samut Prakan home. Bang Sao Thong police described it as an accident. Tanaka’s relatives came to Thailand to pursue investigation results, but were reportedly unconvinced. The late man had taken out a life-insurance policy.

No details are available about Tanaka’s relatives’ subsequent actions or who benefited from his insurance.

Pol Maj-General Sombat Milinthajinda, a senior investigator, said Phornchanok would be questioned further over Tetsuo’s whereabouts after she was found to have his ATM card and mobile phone in her possession.

A police source said that more than Bt700,000 had been withdrawn through 14 automated-teller-machine transactions in Samut Prakan’s Bang Sao Thong and Bang Phli districts.

Police also found that Phornchanok had changed her name several times, and was now married to a Thai man, Somchai Kaewbangyang, and had also had a daughter with him.

Tetsuo’s son told police that his father provided private Japanese classes in Bang Phli district and that his phone was useable until September 21. Tetsuo’s phone came back to life again on September 29, when a woman called an insurance firm asking about Tetsuo’s insurance policy and other details.

Phornchanok had previously been asked about this, and she told police that Tetsuo had removed the SIM card and thrown the phone at her out of anger while they were fighting. She said she later re-inserted the SIM card.

Police said Tetsuo may have met and dated Phornchanok in April, as records at the Huai Khwang apartment building showed that she had started visiting him that month. The security guard confirmed that Tetsuo had not been seen since September 21.

By KITTIPONG MANEERIT

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