Alleged killers of Japanese man: Plea to probe death of ex-husband

Alleged killers of Japanese man: Plea to probe death of ex-husband

THAILAND - The daughter of a Thai woman's first Japanese husband urged police yesterday to reopen the case of her father's death, after 11 years.

Katsutoshi Tanaka - the father of Keiko Matta, 31 - was married to Phornchanok Chaiyapa, who reportedly claimed Bt3 million (S$118,260) from his life insurance after he died in 2003 from falling down the stairs.

Phornchanok is now a suspect in the murder of Yoshinori Shimato, 79, her second Japanese husband.

Matta said she had suspicions about her father's death.

"But [at that time] I didn't know what to do because I didn't know where she was. Now, I came here to see her face," Matta said at the Metropolitan Police Bureau where police held a press conference in relation to the death of Phornchanok's second husband.

Police yesterday charged Phornchanok and her taxi-driver boyfriend Somchai Kaewbangyang with premeditated murder, unlawful detention and concealing the victim's body.

In response to the complaint from Matta, acting deputy police chief Pol Lt-General Ruangsak Jarit-ek said police would have to first wrap up the Shimato case before they look for more information to see if the Tanaka case should be reopened.

Matta was born to Tanaka's second wife, and Phornchanok was his third wife. Matta said that though she was very young at the time, she wondered why Phornchanok had rushed to take her father's body out of the Forensic Medicine Institute for cremation.

"My father had no illnesses and he was very healthy and strong," she added.

Police slapped the charges on Phornchanok and Somchai after officers from the Second Cavalry Division handed them over to the Metropolitan Police Bureau at 10.30am yesterday. Police then had the two undergo physical check-ups to prove that they had not been tortured into confessing.

However, up until press time yesterday, the suspects were still insisting that they had not killed Shimato, just hacked his body and hidden the body parts after he died from natural causes.

Shimato's body parts were retrieved from the Nang Tim Canal near Assumption University on Bang Na-Trat highway.

Ruangsak said yesterday that DNA tests confirmed the body parts found in the canal were those of Shimato, adding that police were still awaiting DNA test results from the bloodstains found in the second-floor bathroom in Phornchanok's house.

Ruangsak said a joint committee, comprising officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau and Provincial Police Bureau 1, would be set up to wrap up the investigation and ensure justice for all sides.

He added that Phornchanok would be closely watched to prevent her from trying to harm herself.

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