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Myanmar national claims abduction, extortion in Phuket

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PHUKET: A Myanmar national claimed yesterday that he had been abducted the week before by a group of men claiming to be ‘Special Force officials’ investigating illegal workers, and that they robbed him of 120,000 baht.

The alleged victim, ‘Mr Maung’, 40, told police that the group abducted him in Phuket Town last Thursday (July 28), then stole 120,000 baht from his bank account – warning him not to tell anyone, especially the police.

However, when Mr Maung’s employer – named by police only as Mr Sombat – heard about the abduction, he took Mr Maung to Phuket City Police Station to file a complaint, Phuket City Police chief Kraisorn Pakaree told the Gazette.

According to the police report filed by Mr Maung, he has been a Phuket resident for more than a decade and was approached by the gang of 4-5 men while outside Community Hall in Phuket Town, where migrant workers have been told to register as part of a nationwide campaign to legalize thousands of unregistered ones from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos (story here).

Mr Maung reported that he was told to get into a black pick-up truck where the men searched him and found a bank card and a cell phone, before driving him to Koh Sireh.

While parked in Koh Sirey, the men demanded 200,000 baht from Mr Maung to drop charges of working illegally. About 30 minutes later, a black Toyota Vios pulled up next to the pick-up truck, Mr Muang told police.

The men in the pick up truck addressed the black Vios driver as ‘palad’ (chief administrative officer), said Mr Muang.

Mr Muang said he refused to pay, so he was driven past his house in Phuket Villa 3 on Chao Fa East Road before being taken to a PTT gas station. One of his captors then made a phone call to a ‘police superintendent’ to ask about the penalty Mr Muang would face if he were arrested.

“I was very scared. They insisted on me giving them my ATM pin code,” Mr Maung said, adding that the men withdrew 120,000 baht from his account but would have taken more if it were not for a withdrawal limit on his ATM card.

Mr Maung told police that the men then dropped him off at Naka Market and ordered him to remain silent about the incident, which he did for about a week, until his employer noticed he was depressed and asked him what had happened.

“I noticed he seemed disturbed and was refusing to talk to others. I asked him what had happened and he reluctantly told me the whole story. That is when I decided to take him to the police station,” Mr Sombat said.

At the station, Mr Maung identified the Vios driver from the Royal Thai Police database.

“That officer, who cannot be named at this stage, is now under investigation,” Captain Kraisorn told the Gazette.

“The suspect faces gang-related charges of unlawful detention and extortion. The case has been passed on to the National Anti-Corruption Commission to decide what disciplinary action to take,” said Capt Kraisorn.

Police said they could not reveal the full names of the individuals involved while investigations were ongoing.

— Winai Sarot

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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