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Killer: I just wanted the money

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2012 at 12:18 PM
Surasak Suwannachote, the man who earlier yesterday confessed to stabbing Australian travel agent Michelle Smith, told a press conference after the re-enactment of the crime that he had no idea what he was going to spend the money on. "I just wanted to steal the money. I had no idea what I was going to do with it," Surasak told the press. "I didn’#39;t even want to stab the woman [Mrs Smith], I just wanted to cut the strap to the bag. I didn’#39;t know she was going to die. I saw her walking away," he said. Surasak told the press that at the time of his arrest that his conscience was already playing on him.
"I saw on the news that the woman died. I am sorry for what happened. When the police arrested me I was already considering handing myself in," he said.
Obviously the killer has consulted a lawyer, at the expense of the Thai tax payer, who told him to say the above. Knowing a bit about the Thai justice system, we expect that he won't get away so easily with these statements. Killing a tourist for a handbag, what does he think?
Surin Thatthong, who drove the motorbike used in the attack, remained silent throughout most of press conference this morning. Dressed in a knockoff Billabong t-shirt, the former employee of a local tyre repair shop broke his silence only once to say "I’#39;m sorry." (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Phuket murderers caught!

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2012 at 12:10 PM
Two suspects wanted for the stabbing murder of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith (60) are in custody in Chumphon province and are expected to be returned to Phuket, the Phuket Gazette has learned. News of the arrests came from Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha. Further details about the identity of the two men and how police were able to track them down are expected to come at a police press conference after the suspects' return to the island. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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H1N1 flu in the Northeast

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2012 at 11:24 AM
Recently 41 persons were confirmed as infected with the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital in the Northeast. Six have been allowed to return home while the rest are under quarantine at the hospital to prevent the spread of the disease, and are not allowed any family visits. Kamron Chaisiri, inspector-general of the Public Health Ministry, said the hospital found the first case on June 12 in the ward for alcoholics, who have weaker immune systems and are easily infected. Six women and 35 men have been admitted, including six hospital staff. The patients are on the antiviral drug Tamiflu and none are severely ill. They have been separated for better treatment. New patients will not be admitted until the situation is confirmed as safe, which would take about two weeks, but outpatient services are operating as usual. Health officials have surveyed schools in the province and discovered no other flu cases, he added. (Source: The Nation)


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Reward for information about Phuket killers

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2012 at 11:20 AM
A 300,000 baht cash reward will be offered to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of two men who killed an Australian woman in Phuket on Wednesday night. Provincial Police Region 8, the Phuket provincial police chief and the owner of Katathani Phuket Beach Resort hotel each donated 100,000 baht towards reward, deputy national police chief Pansiri Prapawat said Saturday. Michelle Smith, 60, Joondalup in Western Australia, was a member of a group of travel agents visiting Phuket to inspect the resort She was stabbed to death by bag-snatchers on Wednesday night. Smith and her friend and fellow travel agent Tammee Lynn, 42, of Attadale, also in Western Australia, were walking back to their hotel in the Karon area around 10.30pm when they were attacked. Smith arrived in Phuket on Wednesday afternoon and was scheduled to travel around Phuket for a month, police said. According to the preliminary probe, the killers are likely to be members of a motorcycle gang known for committing robberies around Phuket. Eyewitnesses have given descriptions of the suspects while police have checked CCTV footage from cameras near the scene, Pol Gen Pansiri said. A sketch of the suspects was being made from witness descriptions and surveillance camera footage, Pol Col Pansiri said. He said the two suspects are aged 20-25 and stood around 170cm tall. They rode a Honda Dream motorcycle with a basket at the front.
A warning to the killers that they may be shot during their capture has been issued. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding expected this year

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2012 at 23:47 PM
Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi should not be affected too badly by floods this year because enough dykes and embankments have been built to protect them, though Ayutthaya will be under more than 3 metres of water, experts said yesterday. This prediction was made by consulting company Team Group, which presented its findings at the "Knowing and Fighting against Flooding" seminar held yesterday at Bangkok's Emerald Hotel. Team Group's managing director, Chawalit Chantararat, said a team of experts had used a model based on last year's volume of water in order to make this prediction. He said the team had discovered that many northern areas of Bangkok would be submerged, including sites around Rapeepat Rangsit and Prayoonrasak canals. In addition, Ayutthaya's Lat Bua Luang, Phak Hai, Bang Sai, Bang Lane, Bang Pla Mha, Sena, Bang Ban and Maha Rat districts will be affected as will Suphan Buri's Song Phi Nong district as well as Angthong's Pho Thong and Pa Moke districts. The flooding in these areas will up to 60 to 80centimetres deep, much higher than the level last year, while Ayutthaya's main town of Muang Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya will be under 3m of water. (Source: The Nation)


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Killed for her bag

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2012 at 23:42 PM
An Australian woman died after being knifed on Wednesday night during an attempted bag-snatch by two men on a motorcycle, police said. The woman was identified as Michelle Elizabeth Smith, 60, a member of a group of 10 travel agents visiting Phuket to inspect a five-star resort. The attack occurred about 10.30pm when Smith and her friend, Lynn Tammee Lee, were walking back to their hotel after having dinner. Lee, who suffered a slash wound to her right arm during the attack, told police that the two men, aged about 18 to 25, drove past them twice before one of them tried to snatch Smith's bag. As Smith struggled to hold on to the bag one of the men stabbed her in the chest. She was pierced through the heart and died at the scene. The motorcycle thugs fled empty handed. Police were tracking them down. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai education going down

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2012 at 10:11 AM
The quality of education in Thailand is still plunging even though the country is among those that have spent huge budgets on education, a seminar heard yesterday. "Thai students' performance has dropped from 'good' in 1985 to 'fair' in 1998 and 'poor' in 2000. And the international scores of Thai students have continued to drop, according to universal scores," said Chainarong Indharameesup, chairman of the Institute for Research and Quality Development Foundation. He was referring to main international tests like the Programme for International Student Assessment and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study during his speech at the seminar on "How the world's most improved school systems keep getting better" held by the Office of the Education Council (OEC). (Source: The Nation)


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Ten percent of working Thais ill

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2012 at 10:08 AM
Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri yesterday said one in every 10 working-age Thai suffers from a chronic disease. As a result the ministry has launched a health promotion campaign to reduce risk among the country's 40 million people aged 15-59. Presiding over the project launch in Ayutthaya yesterday, Wittaya cited a 2009 report showing that one in 10 working people suffered a chronic disease. The top three illnesses are coronary artery disease (32 per cent); diabetes (21 per cent); and respiratory disease (27 per cent). The ministry will work with Labour and Industry ministries to set the criteria for a disease-free working environment and issue guidelines for employers to take care of workers who spend 53,000 hours at the workplace. It will also campaign for healthy food, no smoking and stress-reduction activities. In the first year, the project will focus on three multinational firms, namely Honda, Toyota and Canon. The World Health Organisation said 1,900 million working-age people - including 170 million child labourers - were at risk of health problems. (Source: The Nation)


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Ranong Hill checked

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2012 at 10:05 AM
The Mineral Resources Department will examine a limestone hill in Ranong after it cracked and sent nine big rocks hurtling down. "These rocks must have weighed several tonnes each," Surin Sinkan said, adding that one of the rocks stopped just 200 metres from a house. He is the village chief of |Moo 2, Ban Kork Chang in La-un district. "It could have brought the entire house down," Surin said. Pipat Prompat, who owns the house, said he heard rocks hitting trees and decided to flee on a motorcycle. Surin said initial inspection revealed that the limestone hill, called Khao Ta Thong or Khao Look Klang, was cracked in several spots. He said the rocks had rolled down the hill after several days of rains. A source said the Mineral Resources Department was preparing to dispatch officials to examine the structure of the hill before issuing a warning. (Source: The Nation)


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Fly cheap, fly Don Mueang

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2012 at 9:58 AM
The Airports of Thailand Plc board has approved massive discounts on airport fees in a move to attract airlines to Don Mueang airport. AoT chairman ACM Sumet Photimanee yesterday said the discounts, backed yesterday, would be huge in the first two months and become gradually smaller over three years. From Aug 1 to Sept 30, when runways at the six-year-old Suvarnabhumi airport will be repaired, 95% discounts will be available for take-off, landing and hangar fees at Don Mueang. The AoT chairman said Don Mueang could handle 36.5 million passengers annually. Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan said 14 commercial and chartered airlines had agreed to move to Don Mueang. He had asked the cabinet to adopt the resolution to ensure that the use of Don Mueang would be permanent. He said the relocation incentives target low-cost carriers like Thai AirAsia which operate more than 100 flights per day. Their relocation will greatly relieve congestion at Suvarnabhumi, where an expansion project will take five years and 10 months to complete. Suvarnabhumi is designed to handle 45 million passengers yearly but its volume has already reached 47 million. Mr Jarupong said Don Mueang would be informally opened for relocated airlines in August and officially start full-scale services in October. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No flooding this year if ...

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2012 at 11:07 AM
There is no risk of a mega flood this year if the rainfall level is normal, according to a meteorological department forecast, while two major dams will not overflow, said a senior official of the Royal Irrigation Department. RID’#39;s deputy director general Suthep Noipairoj said affirmed that the two major dams - the Bhumibol dam and the Sirikit dam - are capable of retaining more water and that reserve water is adequate for crop cultivation in the central region. However, he conceded that low-lying areas in Ayutthaya and Ang Thong are likely to be submerged as is a normal occurrence every year. Nevertheless, residential, commercial zones and industrial estates will be safe from flooding, he added. (Source: The Nation)


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Toilets to be upgraded

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2012 at 11:05 AM
Thailand's health ministry has introduced a new programme to replace squat toilets with the sit-down version at all public facilities, officials said Tuesday. Deputy Public Health Minsiter Surawit Khonsomboon said the new loo policy was necessary to prepare for the country’#39;s increasingly aged population. The number of people over 60 years old will reach 14 per cent of the population in 2015, compared with 10 per cent in 2005, according to the United Nations Population Fund. (Source: The Nation)


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Dengue vaccine tested

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2012 at 11:03 AM
The efficacy of the first dengue fever vaccine is expected to be known by September when results of tests on thousands of Thai children will be revealed, the pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur said Thursday. Sanofi Pasteur has been collaborating with Thailand’#39;s Ministry of Health and Mahidol University in conducting dengue vaccine research and trials for the past two decades, with positive results anticipated by the third quarter of this year, Sanofi Pasteur’#39;s programme leader Jean Lang said. Should the field tests prove successful, the company hopes to make the vaccine available by 2015. Some 3.6 billion of the world’#39;s 7 billion population are at risk of being infected by dengue, a virus that is borne by the Aedesmosquito. Although rarely fatal among adults, dengue can claim the lives of young children. (Source: The Nation)


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Flood prevention not ready

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2012 at 11:00 AM
Flood prevention work in provinces which take water run-off from the North is between 60% and 70% complete, as project deadlines draw near. Most progress has been made in building dykes, dredging canals and ponds and preparing flood catchment areas in the lower northern and central provinces, located midway and downstream along the water routes leading to the Gulf of Thailand. However, projects in the northern provinces, which are on the "front line" in terms of dealing with the run-off, are lagging behind schedule, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said after inspecting work in the region. Other regions have later deadlines. Lower northern provinces must finish their work by next month, while projects in the Central Plains have their deadline in August, the premier said. Flash floods, triggered by heavy rain earlier this month, have already hit 15 provinces, including Phitsanulok, Sukhothai and many provinces in the South. Sukhothai governor Chakkarin Plianwong has repeated his call to build the Kaeng Sua Ten dam on the Yom River in Phrae as a long-term solution to flooding in the province. Meanwhile, about 200 residents from the Chat Phailin housing estate in Pathum Thani's Lat Lum Kaeo district rallied at the provincial hall yesterday, calling on officials to provide bigger flood compensation packages. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Two mysterious deaths on Phi Phi

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2012 at 10:55 AM
Two Canadian sisters found dead in their hotel room on the popular Thai resort island of Phi Phi may have been the victims of "serious food poisoning", police said on Sunday. The bodies of Audrey and Noemi Belanger, aged 20 and 26, were found on Friday by staff of Palm Residence Hotel on Ao Nang in Muang district. Early indications were that they suffered an extreme toxic reaction, news agencies reported. "Forensic officials found vomit in the room, blood on their lips and gums and their fingernails and toenails were blue," Pol Lt Col Rat Somboon of Krabi Provincial Police said, adding there were "signs of serious food poisoning". "They died more than 12 hours before being found. They had eaten meals outside the hotel," he said. The bodies of the sisters, who were from Canada's French-speaking Quebec province, were taken from Phi Phi to the nearby town of Krabi on Thailand's Andaman seaboard, where a probe into the cause of the deaths was underway, he added. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King to inaugurate monument

Posted by hasekamp on 9 June 2012 at 17:48 PM
This evening His Majesty the King will preside over the inauguration of a monument built in honour of his older brother, late King Rama VIII. The monument is located at the foot of the Rama VIII Bridge in Bangkok's Bang Phlat district. The statue of the late monarch, which matches the height of the bridge, stands in the middle of the 35-rai Rama VIII Park on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn would be accompanying His Majesty, the Royal Household Bureau said. The inauguration ceremony, scheduled to start at about 5.15pm, will also include merit-making rituals in honour of King Rama VIII, who passed away on June 9, 1946. Some 60,000 national flags as well as flags with the royal emblem will be distributed among admirers expected to queue up between Siriraj Hospital, where His Majesty has been residing, and the statue site, deputy Bangkok city clerk Piangjai Wisarutrat said. (Source: The Nation)


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Crackdown n drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 9 June 2012 at 17:45 PM
The crackdown on drugs continues, with several suspects arrested and a large haul of narcotics seized in separate raids across the country. In Surat Thani, police arrested a male nurse and six others for allegedly dealing in "ice" flakes and amphetamines. A manhunt is also on for eight other members of this ring who are said to be on the run. Suspect Thawatchai Sombat said he had had been buying "ice" from a network run by an inmate at the Bangkok Remand Prison. In the raids, police confiscated a total of 5 kilograms of ice as well as 1,057 amphetamine tablets worth about Bt15 million, in addition to several title deeds of land believed to have been bought with drug money. In Chiang Rai, an Army unit arrested a man at a checkpoint and seized 3,000 amphetamine tablets allegedly in his possession. Another team of soldiers spotted two men wading across the river from Myanmar, who fled before they could be nabbed, dropping packets of 44,000 amphetamine tablets and a kilogram of ice. Police also arrested a hilltribe man at a checkpoint after they allegedly found 121 amphetamine tablets and a small amount of heroin in his possession. In Udon Thani, police and public health officials raided a pharmacy in Muang district and seized a large amount pseudoephedrine-based medication that had been stocked up without permission. Pharmacy owner Chom Wiannok was arrested and charged with possessing restricted medicines, though he insisted that the drugs had been put aside to be returned to manufacturers as required by the authorities. In Pathum Thani, police said they seized an amphetamine-making machine and other drug-making chemicals in the home of suspect Thinnakorn "Joke" Chinbat, after another team of police officers had earlier arrested a suspect based in Pattaya. The suspect reportedly ran a motorcycle-repair business as a front for drug trafficking, police said. (Source: The Nation)


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Heavy weather in several provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 6 June 2012 at 9:46 AM
Landslides and flash floods caused by prolonged heavy rain have wreaked havoc in many parts of Chumphon, Ranong and Mae Hong Son provinces. The storms, which began on Sunday night and subsided yesterday morning, flooded roads and homes, badly affecting thousands of people living in the three provinces. In Chumphon, at least 500 families in two villages of tambon Banna in Muang district and a village in Hin Kaew of Tha Sae district were hit by flash floods with water levels reaching up to 2m in some areas. Many roads were closed or impassable yesterday due to high water levels. A 1km stretch of the Asian Highway route 41 near Pathomporn intersection in Muang district was under about 20-80cm of water, making it impossible for small vehicles to pass. Somchai Im-yu, director of the Hydrology and Water Management Centre for the Irrigation Department's Southern Region, said prolonged rain since Sunday night had triggered flash floods in several areas of the province. The Meteorological Department yesterday warned people in the North and East and in western parts of the South to prepare for heavy rain and possible flooding today and over the next few days. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Vesak Day

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2012 at 16:09 PM
Buddhists nationwide marked Vesak Day on Monday, which this year also marks the 2,600th anniversary of the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha, or Buddha Jayanti. Vesak Day is celebrated to commemorate the three major events in the Buddha's life - his birth, enlightenment and his death. In the capital, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra led thousands of Thais to mark the special day by giving alms to monks at Sanam Luang. Activities including exhibitions on the Buddha's life, Dharma lectures and Buddhist practices were held as part of Buddhism Promotion Week and the International Day of Vesak, in honour of the Buddha's 2,600 years of enlightenment. Buddha relics were moved from the Grand Palace to Sanam Luang for the public to pay homage during this special occasion. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is scheduled to attend the ceremony at Sanam Luang at 5.35pm, while HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will represent the Queen at a ceremony at Buddhamonthon in Nakhon Pathom at 4pm. Buddhists nationwide also marked the occasion by making merit at temples. (Source: The Nation)


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Record rice harvest

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2012 at 16:06 PM
The third consecutive year of record rice production is poised to expand global inventories to the highest level in more than a decade, driving down prices and helping to contain the more than US$1 trillion spent on food imports annually. Farmers will harvest 466.4 million metric tonnes in the 2012 to 2013 season, boosting stockpiles by 0.7 per cent to 104.9 million tonnes, the largest since 2001 to 2002, says the US Department of Agriculture. Prices of five per cent white rice in Thailand may drop as much as 14 per cent to $520 a tonne by the end of July, said Mamadou Ciss, who is the president of Alliance Commodities SA in Geneva and has traded the grain for more than a quarter century. Rising supply will contribute to the biggest grain crop ever, according to the United Nations, whose gauge of world food costs fell 10 per cent since reaching a record in February last year. Lower grain prices will help contain inflation because rice is a staple for more than three billion people. The global food-import bill was already expected by the UN to drop by about $50 billion in 2012 from an all-time high of $1.29 trillion last year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King Rama VIII statue dedication

Posted by hasekamp on 3 June 2012 at 11:03 AM
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra has invited members of the public to welcome His Majesty the King on June 9 at 5.30pm, as the beloved monarch presides over the King Rama VIII Monument dedication ceremony and performs meritorious actions on behalf of King Rama VIII at the Rama VIII Bridge Park in Bang Phlad.
Sukhumbhand said this was a good opportunity for Thais to welcome the King along the route from Siriraj Hospital to the Rama VIII Bridge, while the city would provide mobile medical teams and drinking water for the public. He said the monument would consist of a three-times-life-size statue of King Rama VIII standing on a platform that is the same height as the bridge's handrail. (Source: The Nation)


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DNA test for baby elephants

Posted by hasekamp on 1 June 2012 at 11:06 AM
The long-awaited DNA test results of three baby elephants seized from elephant camps in Phuket will be revealed next week. The three elephants were seized in February from the ATV @ Hill Adventure Tour camp on the road to the Big Buddha image in Chalong; the Elephant Camp at the Laguna complex in Cherng Talay; and the PhuThai Souvenir Market in Chalong. The DNA tests were ordered to determine the baby elephants' mothers and, therefore, whether or not the infant pachyderms had been obtained legally. All relevant parties were invited to join a meeting at the Office of the Ombudsman in Bangkok this morning, Watcharin Phusit, the superintendent of the regional Natural Resources and Environment Crime Suppression Division, told the Gazette today. Currently, the three baby elephants are at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC), a state-run enterprise in Lampang. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Death for killing five

Posted by hasekamp on 1 June 2012 at 11:03 AM
Bangkok's Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced a man to death and three others to life for their involvement in the 2009 armed robbery and murders of a Bang Kapi furniture-factory owner, his wife, daughter, son and housemaid. The four men, Wanchai Anpan, 61, Parithat Numnoi, 55, Tharayuth Saensuk, 50, and Amnat Paradonpitak, 30, broke into Thanayos Pathumwassana's house on April 4, 2009. They killed the home's five occupants and took Bt3 million in valuables, including two desktop computers, a laptop computer, five cellphones and a van. After their arrest, three of the defendants confessed that Wanchai hired them for the robbery. Wanchai had given an alibi that he was elsewhere, but the court was not convinced. The court was also presented with evidence of the defendants' asking another person to help get rid of the evidence. Thanayos and his 17-year-old daughter Sasima were fatally shot while the 15 year old son Thanawat was strangled with a belt. The maid was brutally killed. The court was told that Wanchai threatened Thanayos's wife Kanokkan to tell him the password to the safe, but she said only Thanayos, who was dead, knew it. So they strangled her too. Seeing the defendants' actions as premeditated and brutal, the court sentenced all of them to death but then reduced three of the defendants' sentences to life because of their confessions. (Source: The Nation)


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Nigerian criminal arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 1 June 2012 at 11:00 AM
A Nigerian man was arrested in Nakhon Ratchasima for duping a Thai woman to give him Bt74,560 to cover the "custom system's US dollar-transfer fee" so Bt3 million could be brought in to pay for her dowry.
Police presented Smith Nnamadi, 34, at a press conference yesterday along with a video clip showing him taking the cash from the 23-year-old victim. Nnamadi claimed that he had taken the money on behalf of a British man named Joe Henry, who the victim had been having a romantic relationship with via Facebook. The victim told police that Henry had promised to bring Bt3 million for her dowry, but could not afford to pay Bt321,560 in fees, so he needed her help. The victim had sent him Bt74,560 but Henry said he needed more, which made her suspicious and she turned to the police. Hence, police set up a sting operation at a local mall, where the Nigerian suspect had come to pick up the money. Police investigation found that Nnamadi had conspired with other foreigners to lure Thai women who wanted foreign husbands via MSN, Facebook and other websites. Police have launched a manhunt for his accomplices. (Source: The Nation)


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