Cops urged to up efforts over missing official

The mother and family of missing Si Sa Ket education official Juthaporn Oun-on meets officers at the Royal Thai Police to ask them to speed up the investigation, which has slowed. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Si Sa Ket: National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda has been asked to speed up an investigation into the disappearance of a senior education official in Si Sa Ket after two new findings: suspicious activity on the woman’s Facebook account and a report that a female corpse has been found near the Thai-Lao border.

The mother of the missing official, Juthaporn Oun-on, 37, lodged a petition Monday with Pol Gen Chakthip at the Royal Thai Police Office asking for better progress in the case, which has already been going on for over a month.

Because a prime suspect is an army officer, “we’re afraid we’ll not receive fair treatment,” Ms Juthaporn’s mother Laem said, referring to the potential for a cover-up.

On Monday, Deputy police spokesman Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen assured her family that investigators have not dragged their feet in the case, but they need time to clarify their doubts. He also said he would check on the progress of the probe.

Capt Supphachai Phaso, who works with the 6th Infantry Regiment in Ubon Ratchathani, is believed to be the last person who ed Ms Juthaporn, director of the education division of the Cham Tambon Administration Organisation, on July 3. She went missing on the same day after driving her child to a school in Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district.

The officer, who is being probed by an army disciplinary panel, denied any involvement in the woman’s disappearance after being called to acknowledge police charges.

However, police still question his suspected “close” connection with Ms Juthaporn after finding the captain’s mobile phone was allegedly used to gain access to the woman’s Facebook page after her disappearance.

Somebody used Ms Juthaporn’s Facebook to chat with her relatives, said Pol Col Prasoetsak Sichai, chief of Si Sa Ket police station’s investigation unit.

Investigators had earlier asked Ms Juthaporn’s sister to send a message to the woman’s Facebook, with a response quickly received, he said.

The use of phishing, a technique used to obtain private information online, led officers to find that a mobile phone used in the conversation allegedly belonged to Capt Supphachai. His phone was later confiscated.

Police are considering charging Capt Supphachai with violating the Computer Crime Act, Pol Col Phrasoetsak said.

Capt Supphachai was also earlier suspected of being involved in the sale of Ms Juthaporn’s car. According to an initial investigation, another woman, identified as Suchawadi Pathumin, allegedly took the vehicle from Capt Supphachai before selling it to a used-car firm.

Ms Suchawadi was later charged with receiving stolen goods and forging documents.

Meanwhile, Ms Juthaporn’s husband Witthaya Ketkaew led a group of 30 people to a forest near the Thai-Lao border in Ubon Ratchathani’s Nam Yuen district after getting a tip-off from a village head in Laos’ Champasak province that the body of a woman, who is not a Lao national, was found near the border.

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