CrimeNorthern ThailandThailand

DNA excludes Thais from 2007 murder of Japanese tourist

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Advanced DNA testing has shed new light on the unsolved murder of a female Japanese tourist 13 years ago, suggesting a link to a male of East Asian heritage. Sanook reported on the latest developments in the cold case of Tomoko Kawashita who was found murdered in the Sukhothai Historical Park in 2007.

Kawashita’s body was found near the ruins of an ancient temple in the northern province on May 25, 2007. Police said she was stabbed and her belongings stolen. They collected DNA samples from 379 local Thai men, who were also interrogated. Authorities compared the DNA from the victim’s to that of all 379 without a match.

But a new chromosome heredity technique has confirmed that the suspect was from one of 7 Asian nations – and Thailand wasn’t among them. The Department of Special Investigations pointed the finger strongly at a Japanese man who was close to the victim, and who left Thailand a day after she was murdered. The director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science explained that more advanced methods of DNA testing were used.

“With the new method, we can pinpoint that the DNA we found on the pants of the victim was not the DNA of Thai men. It matched with men from East Asia in the global genetic database that we can access with the help of Thai geneticists.”

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin says he wants to ask Japanese authorities to collect DNA from the man, who was seen with Kawashita.

“At the time, he refused to cooperate in giving tissue samples for lab tests and left Thailand a day after her body was found. We can start with checking his DNA sample in the next phase of the investigation that will be a collaboration between the two countries,”

The Nation reported in November that the unnamed suspect had since died; Sanook made no mention of this in their summary of the latest developments in the case that said Thais are now cleared of the murder.

A spokesman for the Japanese police thanked Thailand for their efforts to solve the case.

SOURCES: AP | thaivisa | Sanook

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Jack Burton

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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