Mystery over Yakuza gangster’s death

KARON: The January 6 death of known Yakuza gangster, Kenji Maehama, 30, (as reported in the Gazette Online the following day) is being investigated by Japanese crime fighters to determine whether he was murdered.

Mr Kenji arrived on Phuket with his stepfather and two friends on January 5, staying at the Phuket Arcadia Beach Resort. The following day Mr Kenji reportedly got into difficulty while swimming off Karon Beach. He died on the way to hospital.

Pol Col Chalit Kaewyarat, Superintendent of Chalong Police Station, told the Gazette today that on Sunday, a team of eight investigators, led by Yoshio Shimizu, Assistant Director of International Investigative Operations of the National Police Agency in Osaka, arrived in Phuket from Bangkok to investigate whether Mr Kenji was murdered.

The visiting investigators reported that, just a few weeks before his death, Mr Kenji had taken out a 150 million yen (56 million baht) life-insurance policy that named his stepfather, Kaoru Maehama, as beneficiary.

Japanese documents also showed that Mr Kaoru was registered as Mr Kenji’s stepfather just a few weeks before the fatal holiday, and that at least one of the three staying with Mr Kenji was a former Yakuzu gang member.

The Japanese investigators had traced the movements of Mr Kenji’s companions and discovered that, after his death, the three men went to Bangkok where they were involved in drunken brawls with bar girls in which some girls were injured.

The Japanese investigation team included representatives of the Japanese insurance company, which will declare Mr Kenji’s policy invalid if it is found that he was murdered. Col Chalit declined to name the insurance company.

Col Chalit said he firmly believes that Mr Kenji’s death was an accident. He explained, “An autopsy performed at the Bangkok Phuket Hospital indicated that he drowned. Nothing was found to indicate that he was murdered. He died from a lack of oxygen.”

Phuket News
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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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