Cambodian authorities Wednesday denied that Thai murder suspect Duangchalerm Yubamrung is hiding in Cambodia and said that if he were, they would send him home to face justice.
“If he was here in Cambodia, we could arrest him and send him back, but in fact he is not here,” co-Defense Minister Tea Banh said. “If you don’t believe me, go check in Poipet. But pack some rice, because it will be a long trip.”
The Bangkok Post reported Wednesday that Duangchalerm is being hidden by Cambodian Navy Commander Tea Vinh, Tea Banh’s brother. Tea Vinh, who lives in Koh Kong, could not be reached for comment.
Tea Banh dismissed the account as nonsense. “The newspapers are exaggerating, trying to make a story,” he said. “I have no relation with this guy involved in this problem, nothing at all.”
Koh Kong provincial Governor Yuth Phoutang said it is not possible that Duangchalerm is hiding in his province. “There aren’t many people here, and we control every house,” he said. “Please come and check.”
Duangchalerm is the son of Chalerm Yubamrung, a Thai member of parliament said to be close to Tea Banh. Duangchalerm is wanted in connection with the Oct 29 shooting death of a police officer in a Bangkok nightclub.
Duangchalerm disappeared after the shooting. He and his two brothers have had 12 brushes with the law in the past three years but have never been punished.
Chalerm Yubamrung and his family made headlines over the weekend when they fled the Princess Hotel and Casino in Poipet after two bombs went off at the nearby Golden Crown Casino. Police blame the bombings on a business dispute.
The family’s presence in Poipet led to speculation they had come to Cambodia to visit Duangchalerm. The trial in the policeman’s death began without him Wednesday in Bangkok.
(Additional reporting by The Associated Press)