CHIANG RAI – Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division officers have arrested Sub-District Chief in Mae Sai on Thursday evening on suspicion of killing two Thais in Japan two decades ago.
Sub-District Chief Buntha Chanthaphun 57, was arrested at his house in Ban Dai sub-district allegedly for taking part in the murder of a Thai man and a Thai woman in Ibaraki prefecture in 1996.
Japanese police informed Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division of their investigation into the murder which found that Mr Buntha, earlier known as Boontha, had fled Japan after the murder.
The Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division later found out that Mr. Janthaphoon had returned to his native province, Chiang Rai, and became the chief of Ban Dai sub-district.
Police and public prosecutors earlier sought a warrant for his arrest from the Criminal Court.
Crime Suppression Division police said Mr. Janthaphoon and three other men identified as Saksamut Yangmang, Mangkorn Sutthadook and Chatree Khruengsanook killed Prayuth Ngandee and Ratree Duankhrue by hitting them on the head and strangling them.
The murders happened by Kasumigaura lake in Ibaraki prefecture on March 24, 1996.
Japanese police were quoted as attributing the murders to a conflict among the Thais over stolen assets worth 1.5 million yen (about 460,000 baht).
Three other suspects had been arrested and prosecuted in Japan. Mr. Janthaphoon fled on a Thai Airways International flight on April 21, 1996, and returned to Chiang Rai. He changed his name and won a local election to become the sub-district head.
The arrest occurred just before the statute of limitations falls in March this year.