BANGKOK – Keiko Matta the daughter of a Japanese businessman Kasitosi Tanaka who died 11 years ago has petitioned police to re-investigate her father’s death after the woman he was living with at the time was arrested for allegedly murdering a 79-year-old Japanese teacher.
In 2003, Keiko Matta’s father Kasitosi Tanaka was found dead in his home at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Police ruled his death an accident after Tanaka’s then-wife Pornchanok Chaiyapa said he was drunk and suffered from a heart attack, causing him to fall down the stairs.
Keiko Matta, 31, said she and her five siblings have been living with doubts about the case since police ruled out foul play in the death of her father Kasitosi Tanaka. “We always believed that our father’s death was not an accident, but murder,” she said.
Ms Matta speaks Thai and has lived in Thailand since she was a child. Media reports about her father’s former partner Pornchanok Chaiyapa being arrested for the murder of Yoshinori Shimato prompted her to contact police.
She yesterday asked officers at Bang Sao Thong police station in Samut Prakan to re-investigate the death of her father.
Ms Pornchanok claimed he died after suffering a heart attack and falling down the stairs while drunk.
But Ms Matta said her father had no history of heart disease and although he drank a lot of alcohol regularly, he never got really drunk.
She added that her father had called her about two weeks before his death, saying that Ms Pornchanok had taken him to buy life insurance and each of his children would receive 1 million baht if he died.
Ms Matta said Ms Pornchanok organized a funeral just two days after her father’s death and had his body cremated immediately.
She added that Ms Pornchanok convinced her to sign a power-of-attorney document written in Japanese, which she cannot read. The document authorised Ms Pornchanok to claim life insurance money on behalf of Ms Matta and Tanaka’s other children and give it to them later.
“Ms Pornchanok was weeping and seemed consumed by grief at the time; so we felt it would be heartless to disagree with her request,” Ms Matta said.
But after she signed the papers, Ms Pornchanok disappeared. The insurance company later confirmed that Ms Pornchanok had taken the insurance money.
Ms Matta’s revelations came as results of DNA tests on body parts retrieved from a canal in Samut Prakan’s Bang Bo district confirmed the remains were that of the missing teacher Shimato, who was last seen on Sept 21.
His son Tetsuo Shimato, who lives in Japan, formally lodged a police complaint on Oct 14 to say his father had gone missing.
Shimato’s son decided to come to Thailand after failing to reach his father by phone as usual. He said he was afraid something terrible had happened to his father, who had told him Thailand was a beautiful country where he wanted to see out the final days of his life.
Police had found several suspicious withdrawals from the missing Japanese man’s bank account over the past two weeks, with a total of more than 700,000 baht taken out in 14 transactions.
On the same day, the Criminal Court approved a police request for an arrest warrant for Ms Pornchanok and Somchai Kaewbangyang, the man she lived with and had a daughter with before marrying Tanaka in 2002.
The warrant was issued for charges of premeditated murder, unlawful detention, and concealing the body of a victim.
Ms Pornchanok denied any wrongdoing, claiming she took Shimato to doctors at Bang Na 2 Hospital after he suddenly fell ill on Sept 21.
She said the medical bills for the hospital were very high, so they decided to leave. The woman claimed she saw him off at Udom Suk skytrain station at 7am on Sept 21 and had not seen him since.
However, Mr Somchai has allegedly confessed to chopping up the body of Shimato at Ms Pornchanok’s house in Samut Prakan on Sept 21. The taxi driver said he did the deed to conceal their theft.
He told police investigators that he received a phone call from Ms Pornchanok about 7pm that day begging him to come to her house.
When he arrived, he claimed she led him to the second floor of the house where he found the dead body of the Japanese man.
Mr Somchai said he and Ms Pornchanok then discussed how to dispose of the body to keep the death a secret. They resolved to dismember the body before putting the remains into four sacks. The pair then dumped the sacks in Khlong Nang Thim in Bang Bo district, he said.