CHIANG RAI– The chauffeur of a Taiwanese illegal gambling kingpin has been arrested in Chiang Rai Thailand for the kidnap and murder, Taiwan businessman Shih Chia-chin.
In a case that has gripped Taiwan, wealthy businessman Shih Chia-chin – who is believed to have accumulated a fortune worth tens of millions of US dollars through illegal gambling – was kidnapped and stabbed to death in August after his driver picked him up from an airport in the north.
The chauffeur, Hsieh Yuan-hsin, was arrested in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand late Wednesday afternoon, officers at Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau said. “The suspect is currently held in Bangkok and could be dispatched back to Taiwan soon after the Thai authorities complete their due legal procedure,” an officer at the bureau told the Newspaper.
Hsieh, 39, had picked up Shih from Taoyuan airport on August 18. Three hours later, the accountant for Shih’s company received a phone call from kidnappers demanding a ransom of T$50 million (S$2.1 million).
Shih’s family wired T$30 million to three designated bank accounts and alerted police, according to a statement at the time from police in the central city of Taichung. Hsieh had tried to withdraw the ransom but fled after he was asked by a bank clerk to show his ID, the statement added.
Prosecutors issued a warrant barring Hsieh from leaving Taiwan but he managed to board a flight for Thailand with a fake passport on the day of the kidnap. Almost a week later, Shih’s body was found in a ditch in a remote area of the southern city of Tainan. He had been stabbed more than 20 times.
Taiwanese authorities released photos on Thursday of Hsieh handcuffed and surrounded by Thai police officers. Two other suspects have already been arrested in Taiwan for the kidnap and murder. Taiwan police say Hsieh, who is reported to have worked for Shih for five years and was formerly a fruit wholesaler, had no previous criminal record.
Local media said Shih had kept a low profile since he survived a kidnap attempt four years ago. He was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison term after his Internet gambling ring was cracked nine years ago, reports said, adding that he had built up a fortune worth billions of Taiwan dollars.