SURAT THANI – A Russian couple holidaying on Koh Phangan have accused a Thai policeman and four of his acomplances of trying to extort money from them in return for dropping false drugs charges against them.
Ekaterina Lobanova, 35, and her husband Anthon Lobanov, 36, on Wednesday told police the five Thai men extort money from them and then stole personal items at Rin Beach in Koh Phangan district of Surat Thani on Tuesday night, in return for dropping false drugs charges against them.
According to the Bangkok Post the couple reported that while they were on there way back to their hotel two men who offered to sell them illicit drugs which they refused.
On the way to the taxi, three more men emerged and claimed to be police officers. The couple said they were handcuffed and told to get inside a taxi, which was on the Au Thong Nai Pan route.
The men then demanded money from them in exchange for dropping charges of illegal possession of drugs, the tourists said.
Ms Lobanova said she told them that she had no money. One of the men then punched her in the face, took her iPhone 6 and other valuables worth about 30,000 baht.
The men then abandoned the Russian couple on Ban Thong Nang Road in tambon Ban Tai, where they sought help from local people, who took them to police to file a complaint.
Pol Maj Gen Apichart Boonsriroj, chief of Surat Thani police, sent extra officers from the province to join Koh Phangan police in investigating the case.
The investigation led to the identification of five suspects, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Suriyan Ranjuan, 50, of Koh Phangan police station, Thanin Srikaew, 46, Apidet Khongman, 31, Thaweesin Khongnak, 34, and Suriya Ruangthong, 47.
The 5 men were charged with colluding in an extortion, assault and illegal detention.
Mr Thanin denied any involvement, while the two others confessed to having offered to sell “drugs” to the tourists, but claimed it was really a common painkiller ground up to fool tourists into paying for it.
They denied assaulting Ms Lobanova.
Pol Maj Gen Apichart said drastic disciplinary action would be taken against Pol Snr Sgt Maj Suriyan if found guilty.
Meanwhile, A Thai cab driver, Mr. Dulrae Senhanuman turned in a wallet containing Bt50,000 and various credit cards belonging to a Hungarian man.
Dulrae was cleaning his taxi at the end of his shift and found the wallet in the back seat after he had just dropped off two Hungarian tourists at the Krabi Airport.
Upon finding the wallet, Dulrae called on the tourism office to find the two Hungarians, only to learn later they were in Koh Samui and were about to fly back home, they had their friend retrieve the wallet.
Apichai Hiranyik, the Krabi tourism office director, hailed the driver for his honesty and for setting a good example on fellow taxi drivers.