Thai official arrested in Japan with 3 paintings from hotel

TOKYO (AP) " Thailand's Commerce Ministry said Wednesday it will provide a lawyer and translator for a senior official arrested in Japan for allegedly stealing three paintings from a hotel's hallways.

Police in Kyoto said Suphat Saquandeekul was arrested Tuesday after they found the paintings in his luggage as he was checking out. Hotel staff had earlier seen security camera footage showing a man removing the paintings from the hallway wall and had alerted police.

The three paintings of nondescript scenery were worth 15,000 yen ($130) in total and fairly small " each about 40 centimeters (16 inches) across and 35 high (14 inches).

The Kyoto police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of office rules, said Suphat admitted to the allegation, saying he wanted the paintings.

Suphat has not been charged yet. Police can detain him until Thursday before handing him over to prosecutors, who have 21 more days to decide whether to press formal charges against him to be tried in a Japanese court.

It was not clear if Suphat, deputy director general of the Department of Intellectual Property, was in Japan on a personal trip or official business.

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Associated Press writer Kaweewit Kaewjinda in Bangkok contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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