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Chaowalit Thongduang’s Dramatic Return: The End of a Seven-Month Manhunt

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Police surround Chaowalit Thongduang, aka Sia Paeng Nanod, at Nakhon Si Thammarat airport on Tuesday evening. (Photo supplied)

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT: The fugitive with many faces, Chaowalit Thongduang, better known as Sia Paeng Nanod, ended his remarkable seven-month evasion of Thai justice with a rather dramatic arrival at Nakhon Si Thammarat airport. Stepping off an Indonesian plane on a Tuesday evening, this notorious figure was met by a wall of law enforcement officials. Yes, the chase is finally over, but the story is just getting started.

Arriving promptly at 5.38 pm, Chaowalit’s entrance was nothing short of theatrical. Waiting for him were senior police officers including immigration officials, the commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8, and the local police commander. Such a VIP welcome, only this time, the red carpet led straight to the police station.

Chaowalit faces a slew of charges ranging from the dramatic escape from custody to a chilling array of attempted murder and other unresolved criminal cases. To add to his growing resume of criminal exploits, immigration police slapped him with a charge of sneaking out of the country. Oh, and don’t forget the Nakhon Si Thammarat police charge for that Houdini escape trick.

The 23-kilometer route from the airport to the police station was a fortress, as officers were determined to prevent a second act in this escape saga. Quadruple the security, triple the watchfulness—every stone was turned to prevent Chaowalit from pulling off another vanishing act.

A long-awaited interrogation awaits him, spanning four days of intense grilling before he’s passed over to the Department of Corrections. Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong assured the public that Chaowalit would be transferred to either Bang Kwang Central Prison in Nonthaburi or Klong Prem Central Prison in Bangkok, both known for their high-security measures. Special protocols are being enacted to make sure there’s no room for another daring escape or any self-harm attempts.

And it’s not just Chaowalit in the spotlight. Minister Tawee promised strong legal action against any officials who may have played a part in his previous escapade. As the layers of this dramatic run-from-the-law are peeled back, authorities are connecting the dots on how Chaowalit managed to lay low in Indonesia for so long. Indonesian officials have supplied a wealth of information, shedding light on his not-so-secret hideout.

Chaowalit’s saga began with his imprisonment for attempted murder and a long list of other criminal accusations, including murder and possession of firearms. October 22, last year, he made his audacious escape from Maharaj Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital, where he was taken for dental treatment. This Houdini act was followed by a cat-and-mouse chase that led the police to a hideout in the Banthad mountain range in Trang on November 8. A shootout ensued, yet Chaowalit managed another astounding escape into the rugged terrain straddling Phatthalung, Trang, and Satun provinces.

A massive manhunt proved futile, with Chaowalit slipping away yet again. It was rumored that he had departed Thailand via speedboat from Satun, like something out of a high-stakes action movie. While on the run, he made headlines by releasing videos claiming he was a scapegoat, the only one sentenced despite several others allegedly involved in his crimes. He lamented that his bail appeal for a pending murder case had not been fairly considered, pleading his case to the virtual court of public opinion.

December 25 marked another dramatic turn as Chaowalit was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for attempted murder. This stemmed from the chilling shooting of a court assistant at a restaurant in Muang district, Phatthalung, back on September 9, 2019. His four co-defendants received life terms, but it was Chaowalit’s absence that made the case even more sensational.


  1. Eva Martinez June 4, 2024

    I can’t believe it took seven months to catch this guy. How does someone even manage to evade the police for that long?

    • Xiao Li June 4, 2024

      It’s likely he had inside help. Corruption is a serious issue in many countries.

      • Eva Martinez June 4, 2024

        True, the article did say they are investigating officials who might be involved. It’s scary how deep this corruption might go.

      • T. Singh June 4, 2024

        Yes, hopefully this will lead to some significant reforms in the system.

    • thailand_rat June 4, 2024

      I hear bribes are pretty common here. Honestly, I’m not surprised.

  2. Markus Fernandez June 4, 2024

    What a dramatic saga! This story reads more like a Hollywood script than real life. Seriously, a speedboat escape?

    • cool_cat_23 June 4, 2024

      Right? Maybe it’ll be turned into a movie one day. I’d definitely watch it.

    • June F. June 4, 2024

      It shows how some people really think they can outsmart the law. Let’s hope justice prevails.

  3. B. Patel June 4, 2024

    This guy is playing the victim card too? Claiming to be a scapegoat in his videos. Classic criminal move.

    • David J. June 4, 2024

      Yeah, it’s a typical defense tactic. He wants to sway public opinion in his favor.

    • Sharon Lee June 4, 2024

      Exactly. It’s just a desperate attempt to gain sympathy and avoid consequences.

    • B. Patel June 4, 2024

      If he was so innocent, he wouldn’t have needed to run in the first place.

  4. Jenny June 4, 2024

    I wonder what other crimes he was involved in that the public doesn’t know about. This guy sounds like a real menace.

    • Ben June 4, 2024

      Given his history, there’s probably a lot more we don’t know.

    • Jenny June 4, 2024

      Yeah, that’s what makes it so worrying. He was probably involved in a lot more than attempted murder.

  5. M. Toussaint June 4, 2024

    Glad they finally caught him, but why isn’t there more scrutiny on the officials who let this happen in the first place?

    • Leo G. June 4, 2024

      Good question! It seems like there are a lot of people who need to answer for their actions.

    • Samantha R. June 4, 2024

      Exactly. Accountability is needed on all levels, not just for the criminals but for those who enable them.

  6. Bryan Moore June 4, 2024

    Why does it always take so long for the justice system to act? He was sentenced in absentia way back in December!

    • analyst_gal June 4, 2024

      Lots of bureaucracy and red tape. Plus, they probably needed time to build a case against him that wouldn’t fall apart in court.

      • Bryan Moore June 4, 2024

        Fair point, but it still feels like they could work faster.

    • Diana K. June 4, 2024

      Charging and prosecuting someone with a record like his is extremely complicated.

  7. Ali R. June 4, 2024

    I feel for the victims. Imagine the fear they’ve had, knowing he was out there for so long.

    • William June 4, 2024

      Absolutely. It’s a nightmare scenario for anyone affected by his crimes.

    • Jen P. June 4, 2024

      Hopefully they can find some peace now that he’s been caught.

  8. Sunny89 June 4, 2024

    Imagine if this guy had used his escapist skills for something good. He could have been an illusionist or stuntman!

  9. F. Romano June 4, 2024

    The security measures they took this time are impressive. Quadruple security? That’s not something you see every day.

  10. Hannah Wright June 4, 2024

    For real, the authorities should have just kept a closer eye on him from the start. This whole mess could have been avoided.

  11. Greg H. June 4, 2024

    This situation highlights how important international cooperation is. Without Indonesia’s help, he might still be at large.

    • sandyBeaches June 4, 2024

      Yes, it’s one of the few silver linings here. Shows we can achieve a lot if countries work together.

  12. Timothy L. June 4, 2024

    If the justice system had acted sooner, he wouldn’t have had the chance to put so many lives at risk for those seven months!

  13. kittyKat45 June 4, 2024

    I read somewhere that high-security prisons like Bang Kwang are practically escape-proof. Do you think it’s true?

    • Mia_Wong June 4, 2024

      They are known for their tight security, but nothing’s truly escape-proof with the right resources or corruption involved.

  14. RedArrow June 4, 2024

    Looks like a lot of officials are going to be sweating bullets with this investigation.

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