BANGKOK — A man accused of sexually assaulting an Australian tourist was arrested early Thursday morning.
Ekburut Ritrakkhaphan was captured in the northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon where police said he fled from Bangkok after he emerged as a suspect in the rape of a 23-year-old Australian woman earlier this month.
Police said the 32-year-old motorcycle taxi driver claims they had consensual sex.
He was arrested 10 days after the woman walked into a police station where she said she had been taken by a tuk-tuk driver to a deserted building in western Bangkok in the early hours of Dec. 5 and assaulted by the man and his friend. Police initially cast doubt on her claim, citing her heavily intoxicated state, which prompted extensive and unsympathetic media coverage.
After the news got out, police were pressured to look into the case, and police chief Sanit Mahathavorn instructed officers to fully investigate it.
They eventually issued an arrest warrant for Ekburut on Tuesday after identifying him through security camera footage. That same day the results of a medical examination confirmed the woman was assaulted.
Ekburut told police he often rides his motorcycle to Khaosan Road late at night because he knows it is a good place to find inebriated women getting out of the bars after late-night drinking sessions. He said he usually finds women to take from there to have sex with.
The motorcycle taxi driver said he saw the Australian woman, who appeared to be drunk, near the Khok Wua junction, so he approached her. He said she got onto his motorcycle of her own will, as he always does when he’s hunting for drunk women.
Ekburut said he abandoned her at the empty building at her request, claiming she did not want to go back to where she was staying, despite the dawning sun.
Ekburut was being questioned Thursday afternoon at the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau.