Another suspect in high-profile burglary contacts police: Bangkok

A suspect in the alleged burglary of the Bangkok home of Transport Ministry permanent secretary Suphoth Sublom has contacted police to discuss surrendering, a senior police officer said yesterday.

Praphan Ruengkhrua said he was in possession of Bt9 million (S$375,813) in cash allegedly stolen from Suphoth's house, Pol Maj-General Ronnasil Phoosara said.

Seven suspects are already in custody.

Another suspect still at large, alleged ringleader Weerasak Chuelee, is believed to have fled to Laos.

Thai and Lao police are searching for him, Ronnasil said.

Suspect Chayathat Jannachai, 34, who turned himself in to police late Sunday night with his mother Chutima Janphong, earlier claimed to be the ringleader.

Police have not clarified whether they believe he or Weerasak is the ringleader.

Ronnasil said that after further questioning of Chutima - a former secretary of Suphoth - police do not believe she was involved in the alleged burglary, but had merely complained to Chayathat about Suphoth's alleged mistreatment of her.

Chutima told police she was forced to take early retirement six months ago.

Chayathat has admitted giving details about Suphoth's house to the other members of the alleged gang but had not participated in the alleged burglary, Ronnasil said.

Another senior officer, Pol Colonel Nanthachart Suphamongkhol, said suspects in custody told police that Weerasak had more than Bt60 million in cash with him while on the run.

There are now seven suspects in custody and four at large, including Weerasak and Praphan.

Arrest warrants have been issued for those not in custody.

A total of Bt16 million in cash and other belongings have been seized from the seven suspects in custody.

Suphoth told police that he had lost around Bt5 million in the November 12 burglary.

Four suspects were yesterday detained at the Criminal Court after it heard indictments in which they are accused of armed burglary, coercion, carrying firearms without sufficient reason, and possession of stolen items.

Police have not questioned Suphoth further after his initial statement, but are waiting for preliminary conclusions from probes by the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) into his alleged failure to declare assets equalling the amount allegedly stolen from his home.

Acting AMLO secretary-general Seehanart Prayoonrat said criminal charges could be filed against Suphoth if there was evidence that he had Bt1 billion in undeclared assets - as alleged initially by the first two suspects to be arrested - without that much having been seized.