Dismembered body of 'European' man hidden in Bangkok freezer for over three years

Three men arrested during police raid have been charged with multiple offences

Bangkok

Thai policemen escort a suspect after three men were arrested on charges of trafficking in forged passports and concealing a dismembered body | Photo: PA Wire

Thai police say a dismembered body, believed to be that of an 'elderly' white European man, had been hidden in a freezer for more than three years.

The corpse was discovered during a raid on a suspected passport forgery gang in Bangkok last Friday, in which guns, drugs and fake identity documents were also found.

"We have contacted both the FBI and UK authorities to check fingerprints, DNA and dental records, to see if there are any matches", said Police Major-General Surachate Hakparn, following initial post-mortem results.

"Although we don't know his nationality, we do believe him to be European. We believe he has been dead for more than three years," he said, adding that analysis of the man's shoes and shirt suggested they had come from the United States.

Three English-speaking men arrested during the raid have since been charged with multiple offences, yet Thai authorities say their true identities, and that of the corpse, remain a mystery.

The men gave their names as James Eger and Aaron Gabel, who both claim to be American, and Peter Andrew Colter - who told police he is a 58-year-old British national, born in London, who grew up in the US.

However, investigators are treating the names and nationalities given by the men as highly suspicious.

Suspected ringleader

Eger and Gabel are currently being held in a remand centre.

Colter is in a secure hospital receiving treatment for injuries sustained after allegedly shooting a police officer during the raid.

Thai police have said that they believe he is the ringleader of the gang.

During the raid, officers found a UK passport in the name of Peter Andrew Colter, but his photograph was also found in a French passport, bearing the name Jean Claude Colbert, and a US passport in the name of William Peter Johnson.

All three documents had different information regarding birth places and dates.

Pol Maj-Gen Hakparn said Colter claimed he entered Thailand using the UK passport, but checks by investigators show no record of that document, or the names shown in the US or French passports, in any of Thailand's immigration records.

He said establishing the true identity of Colter will help uncover possible links to other major fake passport networks, for which Thailand has long been a global hub.

"The main thing we are focused on is establishing the identity of the corpse and answering the question 'who is Peter?' That will lead us to other links," he said.

Although Friday's raid only found 10 passports, police insist it was a major passport forgery operation, pointing to a range of stamps and equipment found during the raid, as well as prior intelligence that led to the search warrant being sought.