The murky and brutal murder of a 48-year-old tourist reveals the deadly underbelly of crime and mobile cash in the twilight zone of Bangkok’s dangerous underworld.
Thai Police are trying to locate a Thai woman wanted for the ‘intentional murder’ of a Taiwanese national in his hotel room on Thursday morning last in the Bang Na area of Bangkok. The victim was battered to death after being restrained with tape and belts to a chair. Two suspects are already in custody and charged with murder while a fourth suspect, a dual citizen of both Iran and Vanuatu, the primary instigator of the fatal attack, fled Thailand the same day.
Thai police in Bangkok, on Saturday, sought a warrant for the arrest of a woman from Ratchaburi province in connection with the murder, early on Thursday morning, of a Taiwanese national at a hotel in the Bang Na area of the capital.
On Thursday last, the 16th of November, the badly beaten body of 48-year-old Chu Chiang Chen was discovered by hotel staff and a friend who promptly called in the police.
Myanmar and Cameroonian nationals arrested and grilled by police at Bang Na Police Station on Friday before being committed by a court on Saturday
This led to warrants being issued and the arrest, on Friday, of 21-year-old Myanmar national Mr Saewo Ling Preay also known as Jensy and 40-year-old Cameroonian Mr John Abon.
Both men were detained after warrants were issued by the Phra Khanong Criminal Court.
On Saturday, the pair were remanded to Bangkok Remand Prison after police requested an extension of their detention period until November 29th. The court refused bail given the gravity of the charges and the potential flight risk.
The Thai woman being sought was the subject of a new arrest warrant issued on Saturday by the criminal court and has been identified as Ms Naphatsarada Ekapathiran, a 34-year-old whose relationship partner is also sought by police in connection with the murder.
Thai woman is the girlfriend of the Iranian perpetrator and also recruited at least one of the gang to carry out the early morning hotel room invasion
Ms Naphatsarada, like the other two suspects in custody, was sought on a charge of the ‘intentional murder’ of the Taiwanese tourist who arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday 14th November.
It is understood that the woman’s boyfriend is the ‘white westerner’ referred to by police earlier this week and who has now been identified as Mr Mohakeki Hamrez.
Initial reports suggested that the man was American but it has now been revealed that he is the holder of dual citizenship, being an Iranian national and a citizen of Vanuatu, a small island state in the South Pacific.
Mr Hamrez is thought to be the primary instigator of the physical assault perpetrated on the 48-year-old Thai national identified as Mr Chu Chiang Chen, a regular visitor to Thailand in recent months and one with a criminal history linked to human trafficking.
Hamrez, the Iranian who is also a citizen of Vanuatu, fled Thailand on Thursday afternoon after the murder of the Taiwanese man hours earlier in Bang Na
Police working on the case believe that Mr Hamrez fled the country on Thursday afternoon, even before the body of his victim was discovered by police.
Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Police has launched a widespread search for his girlfriend, 34-year-old Ms Naphatsarada with growing apprehension that she too may also have fled the country.
On Friday and Saturday, investigating officers at Bang Na Police Station intensively interrogated the 21-year-old Myanmar national and the 40-year-old African linked to what occurred at the Naran Grand Hotel on Udomsuk Road in the Bang Na district of Bangkok on Wednesday night and early into Thursday morning when the hotel room invasion and attack occurred.
It is understood that the 21-year-old Myanmar man, Mr Saewo Ling Preay also known as Jensy, was employed by the Thai woman, Ms Naphatsarada, after he responded to an online advertisement seeking job applicants from people who agreed to be involved in surveillance.
Myanmar man paid ฿2,000 a day by the Thai woman to conduct surveillance on the Taiwanese visitor to Thailand after responding to an online advertisement
The Myanmar man was interviewed by the Thai woman at a shopping centre recently in the Thonburi area of Bangkok and offered a job which paid ฿2,000 per day plus expenses.
At length, he registered himself as a guest of the hotel on November 15th to monitor the movements of the Taiwanese national and occupied Room 507 on the fifth floor.
Mr Chu, he was informed, owed money to Ms Naphatsarada’s boyfriend, the Iranian man identified as Mr Hamrez.
In what appeared to be a confession to police at the end of the week, Mr Jensy or Saewo Ling Preay admitted that he was involved in the assault and forcible interrogation of the Taiwanese citizen in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Iranian national led the violent assault
He admitted to officers that the Iranian man had led the assault on the victim while he had been responsible for restraining him with tape, string and several belts.
Jensy disclosed that the victim was taped with his hands behind his back, had his mouth covered in tape and his legs fastened to a chair at the shins with tape and twine while also being bound by belts across his arms and torso before he was roughly interrogated by his captors.
It emerged on Saturday that the background to the attack and the assault on the Taiwanese man was a partnership between himself and Mohakeki Hamrez, reportedly a hotel development project in the environs of Udomsuk Road and near the hotel in which the attack took place on Thursday morning.
The Iranian man claimed that the Taiwanese man had defrauded him of a significant amount of money which he demanded be repaid.
Victim retrieved several safes on Wednesday but they are understood not to have contained any significant quantities of cash when found in the room
Earlier, police investigators learned that Mr Chu Chiang Chen had retrieved several safes from friends in Nonthaburi province on the Wednesday before he was attacked early on Thursday morning.
These were found in the ransacked hotel bedroom by officers but, it is understood, they did not contain any cash.
However, the hotel room raiders did, according to the Burmese suspect, take a small amount of cash from the scene after the attack on the victim ended as well as his smartphone and laptop.
Police, on Friday, identified the 21-year-old Myanmar national from CCTV footage as he knocked on Mr Chu’s doors at 1 am.
Subsequently, investigators observed traffic between the Myanmar man’s hotel room on the fifth floor and the victim’s on the sixth floor, Room 618, where he died.
Cameroonian suspect, through his wife, claims that he was not involved in the violent attack on his friend but had acted as a mediator in a dispute
This included the Iranian man earlier identified as a ‘white westerner’ and the Cameroonian national, 40-year-old Mr John Abon.
During interrogation at the end of the week, Mr Abon claimed to police that he had been wrongly arrested and was a victim of mistaken identity.
Later, speaking with his wife, reporters heard that her husband had been a friend of Mr Mohakeki Hamrez and the Taiwanese victim for quite some time.
Mr Abon, who is employed as a language teacher and his wife, on Friday, claimed that he was only present at the hotel in his role as a mediator between the two former business partners who had fallen out.
However, in his testimony to police, the Myanmar national, according to police sources, claimed that the Cameroonian had acted as a lookout while the assault took place.
Mr Abon, the Cameroonian, says he rushed to the room and was horrified to see the Iranian and Myanmar suspects pepper-spraying the victim
The Cameroonian’s wife told police that her husband had phoned the victim’s hotel room to find out how the mediation between him and his former partner had gone and later rushed to the scene of the incident to see Mr Hamrez and the Myanmar man physically assaulting the Taiwanese tourist with pepper spray.
She told reporters that her husband had then fled the scene in horror at what he had seen after previously trying to intervene to shield the victim.
Significantly, she said her husband noted, at that time, he had not been bound and restrained in the way that he was found on Thursday evening by police.
When police arrived at Room 618 on Thursday evening they found a turned-over apartment with blood on the bed sheets and some towels.
Police search expanded for 24-year-old Thai woman with Interpol arrest warrants also being sought
The deceased victim was still bound to a chair in a prone position with a severe gash or head wound over his right eyebrow.
On Thursday, the National Police Chief General Torsak Sukwimol gave orders to prioritise the case.
In any case, police on Saturday reported that they were seeking an Interpol arrest warrant for the Iranian national while expanding their search for his 34-year-old girlfriend who will also be sought through the international police agency if she is not found in the meantime.
All four people connected with the incident are to be charged with the intentional murder of the Taiwanese man whose body was taken from the hotel on Thursday for an autopsy and detailed forensic examination.