NAKHON PHANOM — A man who had previously confessed to a hit-and-run fatality to exculpate a teacher told police on Wednesday that he was hired as a scapegoat.
Sap Wapee turned himself in Wednesday morning to Nakhon Phanom provincial police and confessed that he had been paid 400,000 baht to take the fall for Jomsap Saenmuangkot, a retired teacher who served 18 months in jail for the crime.
“I’m willingly turning myself in today. No one is forcing me to. The whole Jomsap case is a lie,” Sap said to police. “Suriya Nualchaoren, or Kru Ong, said he would give me 400,000 baht to take the fall, but I never got the money.”
Sap’s confession, if true, would be a surprising coda for a drama that erupted 10 months ago when Jomsap garnered an outpouring of public sympathy with her tale of systemic injustice and wrongful imprisonment.
After serving part of a 2013 sentence for killing Lua Pobamrung in 2005 with her truck, Jomsap was freed on a royal pardon and nearly two years later went public with her story and sought to be retroactively exonerated.
While seeking a retrial, allegations began to surface that Suriya Nualcharoen, her former colleague and friend, had arranged to pay several scapegoats to clear her name. On Friday, the Supreme Court threw out Jomsap’s request for a retrial. On Monday, police said seven people, Sap among them, were involved in trying to falsely clear Jomsap’s name.
Sap, along with the six other witnesses face charges of filing a false police report and perjury. Police suspect that Suriya – among the seven accused – organized the hiring of the scapegoats.
Sap said he did not commit the hit-and-run, even though he was promised payment for admitting to the crime. In January, he failed to appear as a key witness at a hearing for Jomsap’s retrial. He contacted Police Col. Kasem Mutaporn Tuesday night, saying that he would turn himself in and give a statement Wednesday morning.
Jomsap’s reversal from object of sympathy to renewed villainy has taken social media by storm, with #TeacherJomsap one of the top trending tweets this morning.
“This #TeacherJomsap case, many people berated the police, the courts and the justice system. Now you’re all speechless,” @Kuuga_Freedom tweeted.