Thai man arrested in Japan for murder commited 19 years ago

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A Thai man wanted for a murder committed in Japan 19 years ago has been arrested in southern Thailand, police said Monday.

A Japanese court issued an arrest warrant in 1993 for Wirasak Iamphongsa in the death of Megumi Awaji in Tokyo that year.

Wirasak, 39, was apprehended on a bus in Nakhon Si Thammarat in southern Thailand on Sunday, police Col. Prasopchok Prommoon said.

Wirasak, a former bar worker, told reporters on Monday that he killed the 33-year-old woman during a quarrel. He said he fled to Thailand the next day, taking some of her belongings with him.

"Saying sorry is just an empty word. It doesn't help to bring her back," he said. "I could be in jail for 30 or 40 years but I could still come out. Her life, however, can't come back."

Wirasak will be prosecuted under Thailand's judicial system because the two countries do not have an extradition agreement.

He faces a charge of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of death.