BANGKOK — The Thai consulate in Japan was trying Friday to negotiate a settlement with the hotel where a Thai bureaucrat allegedly stole three paintings, as prosecutors decide whether to try him on charges of theft.
Suphat Saguandeekul was behind bars after a Japanese court on Thursday ordered him held for 10 days in Kyoto, a foreign affairs ministry spokesman said. The consulate in Osaka hoped striking a deal would convince prosecutors to drop criminal charges against the 60-year-old official.
“The Consul-General is trying to discuss with the hotel and negotiate about compensation,” ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said by telephone. “If we can reach an agreement, the prosecutor may drop the case.”
Sek said Suphat was not indicted yet. Instead, the court ordered him jailed for the next 10 days while the case is ongoing, Sek said, adding that Suphat has access to legal assistance provided by the consular officials.
Suphat, a deputy director of Department of Intellectual Property, was in Kyoto for a meeting with Japanese counterparts about patent rights, officials said. For some reason, he later stole three paintings from the hallway of the hotel where he was staying, a crime reportedly captured on camera, according to Japanese media reports.
His arrest proved an embarrassing episode for the bureaucracy and sparked a flurry of ridicule online, including a false report one of the paintings stolen depicted an AV actress.
Sek disputed that news.
“The consulate confirmed to me the paintings show scenery of Kyoto, and not what was shared on social media,” the spokesman said.