A 40-year-old Dutchman wanted in Thailand on suspicion of beating his 35-year-old Thai wife to death with a tablet computer was arrested Wednesday morning by Koh Kong military police at a hotel in Smach Meanchey district.
Matthew Mannen was arrested by two military police officers shortly after he checked out of the Apex Kohkong Hotel, where he was waiting for a bus to Sihanoukville, according to the hotel’s receptionist, Vuthy Long.
“He stayed only one night, and he had checked out already and was waiting for the bus to pick him up when police came into the hotel and asked for him,” Mr. Long said. “He didn’t look surprised when he saw the police—he said, ‘Hello’ and went with them to the car.”
Ros Sokhoeun, a provincial military police official who was involved in the arrest, initially stated Thursday that the suspect was detained at the Cham Yeam border checkpoint, but later corroborated the receptionist’s report that the Dutchman had been arrested at the hotel on Wednesday morning.
“Oh sorry, I was confused about the arrest,” Mr. Sokhoeun said later, adding that military police had in fact been monitoring the suspect since he passed through the checkpoint from Thailand on Tuesday.
“We got reports from Thai police about a Dutchman who may be involved with the murder of a Thai woman and police sent us the identity of the suspect, but they didn’t specify at first that we should arrest him,” he said.
According to the Bangkok Post, Mr. Mannen left his house in Nakhon Pathom province’s Sam Phran district in Thailand on Sunday morning, where his wife, Pornpan Kaewkok-klang, was found dead two days later with head injuries and a smashed tablet computer lying on the floor beside her.
Mr. Sokhoen said military police did not immediately suspect that Mr. Mannen was the murderer because he appeared to act like any other tourist. But on Wednesday morning, Thai police clarified that he was their prime suspect, prompting military police to arrest him.
“We invited him to the military police station and gave him noodle soup and coffee and we shared polite conversation, but we didn’t question him about the murder because the case was in Thailand, so it is the Thai police’s investigation.”
Mr. Mannen was handed over later that day to Thai police at the border, he said.
Jaruak Chotika, chief of Khlong Yai police in Thailand’s Trat province, said Mr. Mannen confessed to his officers that he murdered his wife “in a fit of jealous rage” over her persistent messaging on social media, the Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday evening.
Mr. Sokhoeun said military police in Kong Kong regularly cooperate with Thai police to detain fugitives from Thailand who flee across the border.
“We have cooperated with Thai police on a few cases by arresting suspects after they send us copies of their passports and other information to identify them by, often via WhatsApp [mobile-texting application] on our smartphones,” he said.