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Belgium's 'most wanted man' caught in Phuket

Marc De Schutter, Belgium

Marc De Schutter, Belgium

Mark de Schutter accused of fraud, murder, weapons smuggling, more

Marc de Schutter, Belgium's most wanted man and one of Europe's top five wanted criminals, has been captured in Phuket, Crime Suppression Police chief Supisal Pakdinaruenart said yesterday. De Schutter, however, is maintaining his innocence.

The 57-year-old fugitive was nabbed at a house in Tambon Rawai in Phuket's Muang district on Monday, along with two computer notebooks, a cell phone, some computer tools and three document files.

The arrest followed a request by the Belgian Embassy and the Office of the Attorney-General to national police chief Priewpan Damapong to locate and detain him, Supisal told a media conference, which was attended by Belgian Embassy representatives.

De Schutter was allegedly involved in criminal cases in Belgium including theft; fraud; drug smuggling; illegal trafficking of oil, cigarettes, and war weapons; money laundering; and casino activities.

"The suspect was involved in illegal goods smuggling and trafficking [into Belgium] while also laundering money from crimes in Israel and other countries. He was sentenced by a court to pay 20 million euros [Bt773 million] in fines in an oil refinery factory fraud case," Supisal said.

He added that 15 years ago De Schutter was accused of murdering his wife and disposing of her body to conceal the crime. He escaped when some high-ranking Belgian police allegedly helped him.

De Schutter has connections with criminal syndicates in Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Ireland and Armenia, Supisal said. He also owned luxurious mansions in California and Belgium, where he met with other criminal gangs and entertained high-ranking police, he said.

Police investigations found that De Schutter, after fleeing to various countries, travelled from Singapore to Phuket on June 15 and was staying in Muang district. They planned to arrest him on July 28, but that attempt failed when he changed his address. On July 30, police managed to locate and arrest him, Supisal said.

Police will now take him to the OAG while Belgian authorities apply for his extradition to face punishment in Belgium, he added.




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