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Phuket police probe alleged kidnapping, extortion shakedown by officials

PHUKET: Police say they have identified one of five men who allegedly kidnapped a Myanmar man in Phuket Town and extorted B120,000 from him before releasing him near Wat Naka in Wichit last week.

police, crime, immigration,


Eakkapop Thongtub

Tuesday 2 August 2016, 05:18PM


Myanmar national Maung Moe allegedly lost B120,000 in the shakedown by men who claimed to be part of a 'anti-illegal immigrant task force'. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub
Myanmar national Maung Moe allegedly lost B120,000 in the shakedown by men who claimed to be part of a 'anti-illegal immigrant task force'. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

The 40-year-old Myanmar national, Maung Moe, who also goes by the name “Oalek”, filed a complaint over the alleged kidnapping and extortion at Phuket City Police Station at 3pm yesterday.

He was accompanied by his employer, named by police only as “Mr Sombat” (not his real name), age 42.

Mr Maung Moe told police that four men who claimed to be part of a “special task force targeting illegal migrants” forced him into a black Toyota Vigo pickup truck in front of Phuket Community Hall on Narisorn Rd last Thursday (July 28).

Once he was in the pickup truck, the men seized his Siam Commercial Bank ATM card and his mobile phone from him, Mr Maung Moe said.

“He said they stopped and waited on Surin Rd for more than 30 minutes for another vehicle,” reported Capt Kraisorn Phakaree of the Phuket City Police.

While waiting, the men demanded B200,000 from Maung Moe. If he did not pay, the men said they would arrest him for performing work not defined in his work permit, he added.

While Mr Maung Moe was attempting to convince his abductors that he was unable to pay the ransom, a Toyota Vios arrived.

“Mr Maung Moe said that the driver, who he said was a middle-aged man whom the men called ‘Palad’, stepped out of the car and searched him before taking him into his vehicle,” Capt Kraisorn reported.

“He said they took him to a PTT petrol station on Chao Fa West Rd and asked for his PIN number to withdraw cash from an ATM,” Capt Kraisorn said.

“I felt threatened by them and frightened for my family’s safety,” Mr Maung Moe told police. “At one point the driver called someone on his phone and said that the team had arrested one Myanmar migrant and asked how long the sentence would be ‘for this one’,” he said.

The man dubbed “Palad” escorted Mr Maung Moe to the ATM and withdrew B120,000 from Mr Maung’s account through six separate transactions, Mr Maung Moe said.

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“He could not withdraw any more money because he had reached the limit,” he added.

However, Mr Maung Moe reportedly still had about B500,000 left in the account, police confirmed.

“They let me go and dropped me off near the fresh market in front of Wat Naka. They threatened me not to report the incident to police,” Mr Maung Moe said, adding that he was reporting it to the police at the behest of his employer “Mr Sombat”.

Capt Kraisorn told The Phuket News, “Although Mr Maung could not remember the license plates of either of the two vehicles, we were able to get an image from the ATM’s CCTV showing the suspect who escorted Mr Maung to the ATM.

“We have identified this suspect, but we cannot reveal his name or position to the public because it might affect our investigation,” Capt Kraisorn said.

“Officers are looking into footage from other CCTVs to see if we can identify the license numbers of the vehicles.

“The National Anti-Corruption Commission (click here) will help with this investigation to find the rest of the group. If found guilty, the men will face charges of kidnapping and extortion,” Capt Kraisorn said.

Phuket City Police Chief Col Kamol Osiri told The Phuket News that Mr Maung Moe does have a legally issued work permit and has been living in Thailand legally.

However, he declined to reveal any details about any of the suspects, or confirm or deny whether the suspect identified was an official or law-enforcement officer.

“Police are continuing their investigation,” was all he would he would say.

 

 

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