BANGKOK — Two men – a cop and a teacher – enter a dispute over a 30-million baht lotto jackpot. One leaves unscathed; the other is arrested.
The two-month saga that captured headlines on a daily basis came to an end – sort of – on Wednesday when police arrested one of the lottery claimants and charged him with filing false accusations against his rival. A woman who had come forward to support his claim was also apprehended.
Police officers arrested teacher Preecha Kraikruan, 50, at his school Wednesday noon in Kanchanaburi province while he was giving interviews to reporters. He was expressing doubt over news an arrest warrant issued for him just before police apprehended him.
“I haven’t seen the warrant, so I don’t know if its true or not,” Preecha said moments before the cops swept in to take him to Bangkok by van.
His witness, a lottery vendor who claimed to sell him the winning ticket, was also arrested today. Both Preecha and Rattanaporn Suphathip were charged with filing false police reports and attempting to put others under wrongful prosecution.
At a Wednesday news conference, police commissioner Chakthip Chachinda hinted that one of the two men would end up in jail.
“To compare this case to sports: Sports have wins, losses and draws,” Gen. Chakthip said. “But in this case, there are only wins and losses. There are no draws. There’s only imprisonment.”
However, he stopped short of declaring who the lottery belonged to, saying it’s up to the court to have a final say.
The dispute started back in December when retired police officer Lt. Charoon Wimon told reporters he won the first prize – 30 million baht – of a Nov. 30 lottery draw only to find his prize money frozen by authorities because Preecha told police he was the one who had bought the winning ticket.
Charoon, 62, insisted he bought the lottery from a local market, though he said he could not remember the vendor’s identity.
Preecha said he was the one who bought the ticket but later lost it. He accused Charoon of finding it and falsely claiming it his own. The teacher also presented lotto vendor Rattanaporn as a key witness to support his claim.
While social media debated who the lotto really belonged to and national media obsessed over the latest twists and turns, police last week said they had identified the fraudster in the dispute and promised a news conference by Wednesday.
By Tuesday night, police had obtained arrest warrants for Preecha and Rattanaporn. The latter maintained she sold the lottery to Preecha in a TV interview just hours before she was arrested.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, retired cop Charoon thanked those who believe his side of story.
“I’m relieved that truth surfaced today. I have been waiting for today for a long time,” Charoon said at his residence. “I thank everyone for understanding me. Today I can smile.”
Preecha and Rattanaporn were being questioned at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok as of publication time.