Carjacking leads to tense hostage standoff in Pattaya

Friday, 05 September 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 36 By  Theerarak Suthathiwong

A man thrice treated for mental disease carjacked and held hostage a Pattaya woman, demanding Thailand’s military regime capture rosewood smugglers in the deep south and rescue his wife in Laos.

The drama unfolded around 4 p.m. Aug. 24 when police received a report that a woman was being held at gun- and knife-point near the King Power duty-free mall on Sukhumvit Road.

Somthannut Bunthap (left) was held hostage by Chaiwat Praeson (right) from Kalasin, who was making nonsensical demands of police negotiators.Somthannut Bunthap (left) was held hostage by Chaiwat Praeson (right) from Kalasin, who was making nonsensical demands of police negotiators.

Authorities arrived to find a gold Toyota Vios had slammed into the back of a Isuzu pickup truck at Sukhumvit Soi 42. Inside the car was a trembling Somthannut Bunthap, 42, being held hostage by Chaiwat Praeson, 25, from Kalasin.

Somthannut later told police she had gone to her car outside Tony’s Gym on Third Road when Chaiwat grabbed her, pushing her into her car and threatening her with weapons to drive to Sukhumvit Road.

She said she offered Chaiwat her valuables in exchange for her freedom, but he refused. As a last resort, she intentionally rammed the pickup truck.

Police negotiated with Chaiwat for an hour, hearing two very different demands. First he wanted the National Council for Peace and Order to support military troops in Thailand’s troubled southern prefectures and, specifically, to arrest rosewood traffickers.

Later, however, Chaiwat changed his demand, asking for NCPO assistance in freeing his wife and 1-year-old son from drug dealers.

It’s not know if Chaiwat is even married or why the Issan native was so interested in the deep south.

Police eventually persuaded Chaiwat to allow Sen. Sgt. Maj. Thanorm Phakdeesamai to take Somthannut’s place as his hostage. The suspect agreed and was told to drive to a nearby car-care center to make the switch.

When he did, police caught him off-guard and pulled Chaiwat out of the vehicle and put him in handcuffs. The gun was found to be fake.

Authorities said afterward that Chiawat had been treated for mental disease as hospitals in Khon Kaen, Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai. Officials suspect he either had another mental break or was under the influence of drugs at the time.

A drug test was planned while he was in custody. Initially, however, he was charged with kidnapping, theft and illegal weapons charges.

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