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Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police detained five of the suspects in Muang and Tha Sae districts of Chumphon – Sompote Nuanprom, 49, village head of Moo 2 in Tambon Na Kratam in Chumphon’s Tha Sae district; his wife Nitjaya Nuanprom, 46; Katsama Sangsom, 52, a female health official in tambon Na Kratam; Surat Kleebamrung, formerly Phra Mahasurat Surametee, 42, acting abbot of Wat Maneesop in Tha Sae; and Jarin Yeetpom, 38, a rescue worker.
The two others – Rassamee Jan-ngam, 39, and her elder sister Kanthira Jan-ngam, 44 – turned themselves in to police.
All were charged with giving false statements to police and colluding in falsifying documents and unlawfully using them. Ms Rassamee faces an additional charge of making false statements to the court.
The arrests came after CSD investigators extended the investigation into the fake death of Juree Jan-ngam, 72, convicted of colluding in the murder of her prospective daughter-in-law.
Juree, of Chumphon’s Tha Sae district, faked her death after being convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of her son’s fiancée. Her family claimed she had died in Chumphon in February last year while out on bail pending an appeal.
The wealthy Songkhla businesswoman was finally exposed as still being alive, being recognised in Hat Yai, and surrendered at Crime Suppression Division sub-division 6 on Nov 17.
Her prospective daughter-in-law, Riewprae Chotikarn, 26, a pharmacist who was three months pregnant, was shot dead in Songkhla province on Dec 13, 2007 at a clinic in Khuan Niang district of Songkhla
Ms Riewprae’s assistant, Adison Pratheeptas, also died in the attack, which occurred just two weeks before Ms Riewprae’s planned marriage to Juree’s son, Wikrom Jan-ngam, 36, on Dec 29.
Juree was opposed to the marriage. She believed Ms Riewprae did not deserve her son because she was poor.
The gunman, Narin Janchay, 36, and Jamnong Kongsuwan, 40, his alleged accomplice, were subsequently arrested in Phatthalung after being implicated in the killings.
Narin confessed Juree had hired them for 500,000 baht to kill her future daughter-in-law, giving police the evidence to apprehend Juree.
Investigators sought to indict the trio, but prosecutors dropped charges against Mr Jamnong due to insufficient evidence.
Narin and Juree were later sentenced to death in two court trials. They appealed and Juree was released on B5-million bond, while Narin stayed behind bars.
In February last year one of the daughters, Rassamee, petitioned the court to dismiss the case, claiming her mother died of heart failure and was cremated at Wat Maneesop in Chumphon. She produced a death certificate issued by Tha Sae district authorities.
Songkhla prosecutors petitioned the court to order the examination of witnesses in the case as they did not believe Juree had died. CSD police had also received a complaint from Ms Riewprae’s mother, Ruedeemart Singmanee, that Juree was still alive.
The investigators found Rassamee had transferred her mother’s home registration to Tambon Na Kratam in Tha Sae district. It was discovered Rassamee had notified Sompote of the death of her mother. The village head then sent the death certificate to Katsama to sign as testifier, because she was a public health official.
Sompote also took the document to Phra Mahasurat, then acting abbot of Wat Maneesop, for a temple stamp verifying the funeral rites for Juree. Jarin allegedly signed the document as a witness that Juree died of sudden heart failure.
During police interrogation Rassamee and Kanthira confessed to the charges, according to CSD chief Pol Maj Gen Akkaradet Pimolsri.
Rassamee allegedly told police she had arranged the fake death of her mother. She insisted her mother was innocent and had nothing to do with the murder of her future daughter-in-law. The five other suspects denied the charges.