BANGKOK– A Thai man wanted for the 1993 murder of a woman in Japan was finally caught by police in his home country while traveling just outside of Bangkok. Having escaped from Japan that same year, 39 year old Wirasak Iamphongsa was only five and a half months away from the 20 year limit for Japanese authorities to prosecute. While Thailand will prosecute him as a criminal, as it has no extradition treaty with Japan, had Wirasak not been apprehended by March 14th, 2013, he would have been off the hook.
After his capture, Wirasak admitted to killing 33 year old Megumi Awaji in her bed after getting into a fight. He was working at a bar in Shinjuku at the time and shared an apartment with Awaji. Police discovered her body a week after she had been stabbed to death in March 1993. Wirasak fled the country the day after killing Awaji, taking some of her belongings to Thailand with him.
Police in Japan knew their 20 year statute of limitations was close to running out, so Tokyo detective Uichi Hara was dispatched to work with Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division to help find Wirasak. Thai prosecutors and authorities worked with the Japanese police and the evidence they provided, eventually tracking Wirasak on his mobile phone the day he was caught.
The Crime Suppression Division say this is the first time Thailand issued an arrest warrant for a suspect that committed a crime outside the country. Wirasak reportedly told police that he was sorry, but knew that wouldn’t bring her back, recognizing that there was still a chance he could come out of jail during his lifetime, Awaji’s life was gone. He will be prosecuted under Thailand’s judicial system for the charge of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of death.