PHUKET (Gazette, The Nation): Kathu apartment owner Pichet Porntantipong, who stands accused of chopping off his thumb to collect 16 million baht in insurance, on May 21 insisted he suffered a mishap in the kitchen and welcomed a police investigation.
“I’ve got nothing to hide…I’m ready for the police to investigate the facts,” he said.
He declined, however, to go into the details of the case, saying he had hired a lawyer to represent him.
In January, Siam Commercial Samakki Insurance asked police to investigate an accident claim filed by the 38-year-old K. Pichet in October.
In the claim, K. Pichet said he accidentally chopped off his left thumb while chopping pork bones and that the digit fell onto a stove, where it was badly burned.
K. Pichet told police the accident happened when his close friend Naret Phadda walked in the kitchen and accidentally knocked a pot onto the floor, startling him and causing him to lose concentration.
Upornrat Boonwong, a representative of the insurer, said the firm doubted K. Pichet because he had so many insurance policies.
He had taken out policies totaling 60 million baht with 30 companies; all of the insurers had agreed to ask police to investigate the loss of K. Pichet’s thumb, K. Upornrat said.
The insurers also question why K. Pichet was chopping pork bones with his thumb extended.
In 2005 and 2006, K. Pichet purchased four policies from Siam Commercial Samakki that insured him to the tune of 5 million baht. Compensation for the loss of a thumb is equal to one quarter of that amount.
On May 21, K. Pichet said that immediately following the accident he went to Bangkok Hospital Phuket, where doctors told him they could not reattach the severed thumb. Staff there took photographs of his thumb-less hand.
He then contacted the insurance companies, told them what happened and invited them to inspect the accident scene.
He said that the purchase of numerous policies is normal and many people are insured for far larger sums.
“I lost my thumb in an accident and I don’t understand why the insurance companies are suspicious,” he said.
He dismissed reports that he had gone into hiding, saying he was living and working in Phuket as though nothing had happened.
Crime Suppression acting commander Pol Col Pongpat Chayaphan said 13 officers were investigating the case. If they conclude that K. Pichit chopped off his thumb as part of an insurance scam he will be prosecuted, Col Pongpat said.
Forensic evidence suggests that it took more than one chop to sever the thumb.
Forensic expert Pol Lt Col Dr Pattana Kitkrailas was shown photographs of Pichet’s hand and severed thumb. After analyzing the skin, he told investigators that the thumb could not have been completely severed in one chop and that the actual separation of the thumb from the hand occurred after an initial cut was made.
If found guilty of fraud K. Pichit faces up to two years in jail, a fine of 6,000 baht, or both.
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