Billionaire kidnap-murder suspect held in Thailand

Billionaire kidnap-murder suspect held in Thailand

TAIPEI - Suspect Hsieh Yuan-hsin , who allegedly kidnapped and murdered a Taiwanese billionaire, has been arrested in Thailand, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said yesterday.

Hsieh, the billionaire Shih Chia-chin's driver, allegedly abducted, killed and abandoned the body of his employer. Hsieh's two accomplices - Lin Chih-hsiung , 31, and Cheng Ching-ta, 26 - were arrested in Pingtung and Yulin on Aug. 25. Police believe that Hsieh fled to Thailand on Aug. 18 using a forged passport - which he created by pasting his own photo into his cousin's passport.

Thai immigration officials yesterday held a press conference in Hsieh's presence, confirming that Hsieh was nabbed in Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand.

Hsieh is currently being held at an immigration detention centre in Bangkok, pending for repatriation, Thai immigration official Varavudh Thavichaigarn was quoted by the Central News Agency. The official further said that the Thai authorities and Taiwanese representatives in Thailand are working on Hsieh's repatriation matter, hoping to escort the suspect back to Taiwan today.

The CIB said the reason Hsieh chose to flee to Thailand was because he had been to the country over 10 years ago and is familiar with it. The bureau further said that the investigators discovered that after Hsieh arrived in Bangkok on Aug. 18, he first took a train to Chiang Mai and then took a bus to Chiang Rai.

The suspect had been hidden in a local hotel in Chiang Rai, the bureau said, adding that after Thai police arrested Hsieh, they discovered that he was about to slip out of Thailand to Cambodia.

The forged passport that Hsieh had been using to flee to Thailand was immediately annulled by Taiwanese authorities, the CIB said, adding that it at the same time sought assistance from Thai authorities to track the suspect's whereabouts under a bilateral crime investigation agreement.

The two accomplices confessed to participating in the kidnapping of Shih, but denied killing the victim, according to Taiwan's prosecutors. Hsieh, on the other hand, reportedly told Thai police that he acted alone. Taiwanese prosecutors said they are waiting for Hsieh's return to learn more about the incident.

Shih was allegedly abducted by Hsieh on the morning of Aug. 18 after being picked up at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The suspects made a call to Shih's family and demanded a ransom of NT$50 million. The victim was later found dead with over 20 puncture wounds in his back, in a mountainous area on the night of Aug. 24, police said.

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