Parents won't forgive friend who took runaway daughter

A plainclothes policeman accompanies Ronnachit Bamrungjit to Phlap Plachai 1 police station on Friday after he was arrested in Chiang Mai on Thursday. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

The parents of a 14-year-old Bangkok girl have vowed no compromise with a family friend who was found with their runaway daughter in Chiang Mai.

The father of the girl said on Friday that he would not forgive Ronnachit Bamrungjit, 52, for going out with his daughter for 15 days. He said he believed his friend had talked the troubled girl into hitting the road with him.

The names of the parents and their daughter were not disclosed as the girl is still underage.

She was first reported missing from home by her parents on Dec 27. They alerted police at the Phlap Plachai 1 police station 24 hours later as they feared for her safety, and later contacted the Crime Suppression Division.

Police finally found the girl in Chiang Mai on Thursday night in a hotel with Mr Ronnachit.

The man was charged for taking a minor from her parents, based on an arrest warrant approved by the South Bangkok Criminal Court. He was taken from Chiang Mai for interrogation and to formally hear the charge at the Phlap Plachai 1 police station on Friday. The offence carries a fine from 4,000 to 20,000 baht and/or a jail term from two to 10 years.

He could face additional charges if evidence links him to other offences, police said.

“I suspected all along that he might have been the one who took my daughter because the two were close,” the father told reporters at the police station. “I had not been able to contact him ever since [the girl disappeared].”

The girl has undergone a medical examination and reportedly feels stressed about what she has done.

The suspect was trusted by the family of the girl, who called him uncle, to drive her to school and home from time to time. He also tutored her to prepare for exams, according to the father.

Prior to her disappearance, the father said his daughter wanted to go out and see movies but he was still recovering from surgery while the girl’s mother was nursing sore legs.

“I have to admit that we rarely listened to her problems,” he said.

A joint operation involving several police units was organised to look for the girl. After talking with her parents, friends and teachers, investigators concluded that the girl probably had gone with someone who was close to her.

Police later found evidence that the suspect and the girl rode on his motorcycle from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and stopped at some attractions along the way. The two reportedly arrived in the northern city on Tuesday.

Kiatnarong Chalermsuk, the Phlap Plachai 1 chief, said after questioning the suspect that he admitted taking her out. The girl had reportedly consulted him for about a month, asking him to map out a plan to run away, the officer said.

The suspect is in custody at the police station and will appear in court on Saturday when police will ask for him to be detained further.

Pol Col Kiatnarong said the girl was safe but she has not yet met her parents.

Her father said other families should take the case of his daughter as a lesson to listen to problems of their children.

“Every family should be open-minded to listen to their children. That will make them comfortable about talking to you and consulting you,” he added.

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