Svein Tore Holtekjolen, 57, fought off five men masquerading as police officers in a 3 a.m. ambush on Second Road near Soi Diana. The owner of an estimated 200 million baht in condominiums in Pattaya, Holtekjolen was known to carry large amounts of cash, as well as an “unlimited withdrawal” ATM card. He told friends he believed the kidnappers wanted to drain his bank account and then kill him.
Svein Tore Holtekjolen (left) stares down the failed kidnappers.
About 30 minutes after the attack, Pattaya police captured the crew of northern Thailand men after they crashed their getaway car into a baht bus in Jomtien Beach. Under interrogation, they confessed, claiming to have been contracted by Apichat “Tai” Chanprakhon, who himself was reportedly hired by one of the Norwegian’s former business partners.
A police sketch of Apichat “Tai” Chanprakhon, one of the men wanted for questioning regarding the kidnap attempt.
Pattaya Police on Dec. 26 obtained an arrest warrant for Apichat and released a composite sketch of the unidentified former business partner. Meanwhile, Pran Ratprakhon, 39, of Buriram; Prayad Silakul, 44, of Chiang Mai; Pairoj Runagnarong, 37, of Buriram; Wittaya Chantuek, 39, of Ubon Ratchathani; and Prasert Tawanwet, 35, of Buriram were being held on attempted kidnapping charges. A sixth man, identified only as Nat, escaped after stopping the baht bus and is still at large.
The drama unfolded after Holtekjolen and his son had been riding home from Walking Street in a baht bus with two other Thai men. As they approached Soi Diana, one of the Thais rang the bell to stop the taxi while a blue Toyota Corona pulled up behind.
Holtekjolen told friends that suddenly, the other Thai pushed him out of the truck, sending him crashing into the Toyota. Four men then jumped from the car and tried to pull the Norwegian inside.
Police released this sketch of “Nat”, who they believe bankrolled the attempted kidnapping.
A big man, Holtekjolen was able to fight off his assailants, but not until he got a look inside the Toyota. Waiting for him were handcuffs, tape and a canvas sack.
Holtekjolen’s resistance and his son’s shouts for help alerted witnesses and panicked the kidnappers, who fled down Soi 13/2 and south along Beach Road. Police found the suspects fleeing down Thappraya Road where they crashed into a baht bus near the View Talay 2 condominium project. The men then attempted to escape on foot, but were captured about 500 meters from the collision.
Inside the Toyota police recovered handcuffs, cutting tools, two rolls of duct tape, a razor and canvas car cover. The car also bore fake license plates. Holtekjolen later identified two of the men who claimed to be police officers.
Under questioning, Pran told investigators they’d been hired by Apichat for 50,000 baht each to abduct the Norwegian. Apichat, in turn, was reportedly hired by an unidentified Thai man in his 50s, about 160 cm. tall, fat, tanned and with short hair, about 50-55 years of age.
Apichat and the kidnappers planned their ambush while staying at the Chaba Hut motel on Soi Buakaow and, Pran said, Apichat trailed the suspects in his own truck on the night of the attempted abduction.
The mystery man behind the entire plot is believed to be real estate developer who Holtekjolen had invested 5 million baht with. The deal, however, went bad and Thai developer reportedly refused to repay the Norwegian. Holtekjolen then filed a case with authorities to recover the funds.
The alleged kidnappers were told Apichat’s boss wanted to abduct Holtekjolen for ransom in retribution for going to police as well as to pay off gambling debts.