Fugitive Duangchalerm surrenders

BANGKOK (The Nation): Thailand’s most wanted man, politician’s son Duangchlarem Yoobamrung, surrendered to police last night after flying in from Kuala Lumpur. Duangchalerm, son of notorious MP Chalerm Yoobamrung, is accused of the murder of a policeman in a Bangkok nightclub just over six months ago. He has been on the run ever since. Duangchalerm breezed into the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur minutes after it opened yesterday morning, then flew to Thailand along with eldest brother Artharn and an uncle. Police and his father met him at the Don Muang Airport’s arrival area after his flight touched down at about 8.45 pm. With open arms, a smiling Chalerm approached his youngest son, who looked fresh, relaxed and healthy. Duangchalerm, who was not handcuffed, knelt down and prostrated himself before his father, who bent over and patted his back. Chalerm claimed it was the first time he had met his son since the shooting in the ‘Twenty Pub’ on October 29 last year. In that incident, Duangchalerm allegedly shot decorated crime-buster Suvichai Rodwimut in the head. “This is my happiest day in six months because I missed him so much,” the MP said. He sat in the same police car as Duangchalerm, which left the airport in a tightly guarded convoy. They arrived at the Thung Song Hong police station shortly before 10 pm. At the police station, Chalerm was the first to get out of the car. Then Duangchalerm, still without handcuffs, followed him. The area erupted in a mix of boos and cheers. The cheers came from Chalerm’s political supporters, who carried banners encouraging the suspect to defend himself in court. Duangchalerm waved a clenched fist to the well-wishers as officers virtually hauled him toward the interrogation room. How, where and when Duangchalerm entered Malaysia remains unclear. Reports said he left Cambodia by boat from Kompong Som on May 1, but did not say who assisted him. The suspect was believed to have been sheltered in Cambodia by an influential figure with political links in Thailand. Police said the case would be forwarded to prosecutors as soon as possible, regardless of what Duangchalerm, who was charged with murder in absentia, said at the interrogation. They also vowed to oppose the Yoobamrung family’s efforts to seek bail. “We have a strong case against him,” said assistant national police chief Noppadol Somboonsap. “It’s been a long time, but our evidence doesn’t fade with time.” Some high-ranking government sources said the Yoobamrung family had been extremely worried by police signals that Duangchalerm would be targeted for extra-judicial killing if he did not surrender. (For additional related news see https://www.nationmultimedia.com/page.news.php3?clid=2&theme=A&usrsess=1&id=10554 .)

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