Police seek to detain 'runaway bride' on theft charge

Jariyaporn Buayai (right) talks to police at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

A woman accused of taking off with dowries after marrying at least seven men has been detained for an old petty offence, but it remains unclear what charges she might face in the high-profile case.

Police on Saturday took Jariyaporn Buayai, 32, to the Thanyaburi Court in Pathum Thani to seek the first detention on a charge of stealing an air-conditioner from a resort room there in 2013.

Criminal suspects can be detained for up to seven 12-day periods, or 84 days, before charges must be formally laid.

Responding to reports that she cheated at least seven men out of 3 million baht in dowries and investment money, the Loei native said on Saturday that she had no intention to deceive the men. Her parents had nothing to do with her actions, she added.

Police earlier suspected her parents were conspirators since they had been at all of her weddings to take the dowries.

Ms Jariyaporn, who was arrested on Thursday, said she had not tried to escape. In fact, she claimed she was the one who contacted police in the first place.

“News reports that there are 30 or 40 men who claimed to be the damaged party are also not true,” she was quoted as saying by Thairath Online.

“As far as I know, I’m in custody because of some criminal charges in 2013."

Apart from the theft in Pathum Thani, Ms Jariyaporn faced arrest warrants for failing to pay for some durian she bought and other minor charges, according to Thai media.

Police have yet to charge her in connection with absconding with the dowries since there is no law specifying how long someone has to remain married after receiving a dowry. However, a prosecutor on Saturday offered some advice.

Thanakrit Vorathanatchakul, a prosecutor attached to the Attorney General’s Office, said the men who felt they were cheated into giving dowries to the woman could take civil action to get their assets back.

He said that what Ms Jariyaporn was accused of doing violated Section 341 of the Criminal Code on fraud. The penalty is a three-year jail term and/or a fine of up to 6,000 baht.

“However, the offence is not a state crime. Victims must file complaints [with police] or file suit with the court within three months after they become aware of the crime and know who the offender is,” he said.

Since in this case the offences took place the course of a few years, the statute of limitations might already have expired for some of the victims.

“However, the fact that they did not file a complaint or a lawsuit in time does not deprive them of the right to file a civil charge to seek a return of the assets, as well as damages,” said Mr Thanakrit.

For cases within the statute of limitations, the prosecutor trying her may also demand that she return the assets to the victims but they could not seek damages.

“If they insist on demanding damages, they will have to file a petition with the court to combine the cases, in which case they will be exempt from court fees,” he explained.

While there is no Supreme Court precedent ruling in such a case, a former attorney-general once offered an opinion in a similar case.

In that case, which took place in Phra Khanong district of Bangkok, a married man asked a woman he was courting to give him some money and gold necklaces so that he could prepare for an engagement party and a wedding. He then disappeared and could not be reached.

“The attorney-general wrote that the defendant not only failed to make good on his word, he intentionally cheated her. He convinced her there would be the engagement party and the wedding until she agreed to give him the assets when he had no intention to do so from the start," Mr Thanakrit said.

"The attorney-general then ordered the prosecution of the man for fraud. However, the statute of limitations of the case ran out since he fled and could not be brought to trial within 10 years."

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