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Cosplay blackmailer gets bail

A man alleged to be involved in the suicide of a minor after having blackmailed her into sending explicit images of herself was released by the Criminal Court Saturday on 50,000-baht bail.

Police from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD) took Piyabutr Urai-ngam, 27, to the court to seek approval for the first round of his detention. Bail was opposed by authorities who reasoned that the case carried a severe penalty, and the suspect poses a flight risk.

The suspect, who worked as a call centre operator at a communications firm, was arrested at a house in tambon Khu Khot of Lam Luk Ka district, Pathum Thani province, on Thursday morning. He has been charged with possession of child pornography for sexual and commercial purposes.

Despite police opposition, the Criminal Court released him on bail after he posted 50,000 baht as surety. The court mandated he must be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet and barred from using social media.

Police have been permitted to search his house any time they suspect a repeat offence. Violation of any of the conditions is to result in the revocation of his bail, said a police source.

ATPD commander Pol Maj Gen Wiwat Khamchamnarn said on Saturday that police investigators have pressed three counts of charges against Mr Piyabutr for possessing child pornography, coercing people into doing something with threats to make them fear that failing to do so would cause dangers to their lives, bodies, liberties, reputations or property and inducing minors to perform or act in violation of the Child Protection Act.

The first charge carries a jail term of up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht. The second count of charge carries a jail term of up to 3 years and/or a fine of up to 60,000 baht. The third count of charge carries a jail term of  up to three months, said Pol Maj Gen Wiwat.

Pathum Thani provincial court earlier issued a search warrant after a police officer sought help from Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, commander of the Anti-Corruption Division, saying his 14-year-old daughter had committed suicide after being victimised by a social media user who used fake Discord and Twitter accounts to approach her.

According to her father, the minor was lured into sending nude photos of herself in exchange for money. The account holder then used the material to blackmail her and coerce her into engaging in video calls with him and following lewd instructions. The girl eventually hung herself due to the stress of the situation.

On Friday, Pol Maj Gen Wiwat said the suspect admitted to his actions and connection to the suicide.

A source said police discovered more than 100 indecent videos of girls stored on his mobile phone and computer. Initial inspection has found 26 girls aged below 15 were in the videos.

Investigators are contacting victims’ parents to seek further filings against the suspect.

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