An Israeli man and his 17-year-old son were arrested in Bangkok Saturday on suspicion of murdering another Israeli.
The dismembered body of Eli Cohen, 63, was found in a suitcase under freshly-poured concrete in the home of Shimon Biton, who was arrested for the crime along with his son.
According to police quoted by the Bangkok Post website, Biton has confessed to the crime, saying that he acted in a fit of jealousy after learning that Cohen had engaged in an affair with his girlfriend.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrests and said it was working with the embassy in Bangkok to help the victim’s family in its dealings with the Thai authorities. “We are waiting for the conclusion of the investigation,” the ministry said.
Cohen was a former Israeli police officer who was living in Thailand. His family and Chabad representatives reported a few days ago that he had disappeared from his hotel in Bangkok. Officials from the Israeli embassy contacted Thai police to report him missing on Friday.
The police began investigating and questioned Biton, who was known to be a good friend of Cohen.
Police subsequently discovered Cohen’s Toyota abandoned about 10 kilometer’s from Biton’s home and also found that Biton had used Cohen’s credit card to buy plastic bags, razors, mothballs and other items that he allegedly used during the murder and after, to conceal it.
Police went to Biton’s home Saturday. Biton initially denied knowing anything about his friend’s disappearance, but the police found bloodstains on a door hinge in his home and noticed a strong smell in the house. A search revealed fresh cement poured underneath a staircase. Cohen’s body was found in a suitcase under the cement.
Biton has a long criminal record in Israel and in Thailand. In the early 1990s he was convicted in Israel of robbing and assaulting an elderly woman. He fled the country before beginning a five-year prison term, but was captured in Belgium four years later, extradited and jailed.
Two years after beginning his sentence, Biton fled to Thailand while on furlough from prison. From there, he fled to the Philippines after being named as a suspect in a murder. Extradited back to Thailand, he was charged with concealing a body and sentenced to a prison term in 2004. After completing his sentence in Thailand, he was returned to Israel to finish his prison term here.
In 2006, Biton was released from prison in Israel and enlisted by the police as an informant. He helped catch a number of criminals.