Thai police nab three foreign fugitives

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Two Britons and a Japanese man wanted on charges including murder, fraud and sex offences have been arrested in Thailand, immigration police said on Friday.

The fugitives include Stuart Scott Crawford, 44, thought to be on Britain's most wanted list as the prime suspect in the September 2008 murder of his friend Michael Ryan in his home country.

Thai police also detained John David Fletcher, 66, sought by Cambodia on child sex charges, and Ichiro Ogushi, 35, wanted by Japan for allegedly faking his own death in a 500 million yen (almost six million dollar) insurance scam.

The arrests continue a crackdown on foreign criminal suspects in Thailand as the prime holiday destination seeks to shed its image as something of a haven for those seeking to evade the law.

British police suspect Crawford of beating Ryan to death and using his credit card to withdraw 6,500 pounds (10,300 dollars) before fleeing to Thailand.

Crawford, who has lived in Thailand for two years with his Thai wife, was arrested in the seaside resort of Pattaya on Tuesday after the British embassy requested cooperation in the matter.

Thai police said Fletcher was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting children in Cambodia. He has previously served an 18-month prison sentence in Britain for raping a 16-year-old girl.

Police said he set up a charity called the Rubbish Dump Project, which claimed to provide a way for tourists to donate money for needy children in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.

Ogushi is thought to have travelled to Thailand to file a forged death registration in order to make an insurance claim after his export business in Japan failed.

He was found out when the Japanese embassy in Bangkok realised the certificate was fake, while forensic tests on the substance purporting to be his ashes, could not confirm his identity although they were human remains.

Both Britons are set to be extradited and Thai police said they were in discussions with the Japanese embassy over the Ogushi case.

© 2010 AFP

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