Hunt for man whose photo drove woman to suicide

A COURT on Thursday approved the arrest warrant for a former village headman after it was claimed he raped a woman and then posted a humiliating photo of the encounter on his Facebook page, driving her to suicide.

The suspect, identified as Noppadol Nawaariya from Tak’s Phop Phra district, was wanted for rape, which is punishable by a minimum prison sentence of three years. It was later reported that he would surrender to police in Lampang last night.

The 22-year-old Hmong woman drank pesticide on Saturday night and was rushed to Lampang Hospital in Muang district but died on Wednesday, after which her relatives decided to hold a funeral for her in Lampang’s Ngao district.

Atchariya Ruangratanapong, a lawyer and chairman of a Facebook group for assisting crime victims, on Thursday accompanied the victim’s twin sister to give key evidence to the case investigator, Muang Lampang deputy superintendent Pol Lt Colonel Seusakul Khunpherm.

The evidence, later identified as the photo of the victim and the suspect in the hotel room where the attack occurred, was reportedly included in the arrest warrant application.

Atchariya also said the accused man, a Tak-based former village headman had allegedly committed similar crimes before -– of raping and taking photos to blackmail other women in Tak and other northern provinces – but that none had filed a complaint before.

He said that many Hmong people assume |village headmen to be wealthy and influential people and the woman told him before she died that she had gone with the man fearing the consequences if she didn’t.

Her sister also revealed what she said in her suicide note: she apologised for embarrassing her parents and hoped to be born as her twin sister in her next life.

The sister urged the authorities to punish the former village headman, who claimed to be single and lured her sister to the hotel with the intent to rape her.

She also revealed that, while her sister was in a coma in hospital, the suspect added her on Facebook and sent messages asking about her sister’s condition and offering to pay Bt30,000 a month in compensation.

She says she turned down the offer because she didn’t know who he was and was still in shock with what had happened to her twin.

Previous news reports had said the victim was raped by the former village headman and three of his friends but Atchariya has dismissed that as a misunderstanding, quoting the victim as having told him before her death that she was raped only by the former village headman.

The victim, whose parents and relatives live in Nan, lived with her husband in Lampang.

The alleged rape took place on July 14, after which she became visibly depressed and quieter than normal but didn’t reveal what had happened.

It was only after her alleged rapist posted a photo of him lying next to her while she was unconscious in the hotel room that she told her parents about it.

She said she had been lured by a former village chief to the hotel to be raped and she was sorry for embarrassing the family. – TheNation

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