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Independent panel reviews Boss case to see if it can be re-opened

Thaiger

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Independent panel reviews Boss case to see if it can be re-opened | Thaiger
PHOTO: Vorayuth "Boss' Yoovidhya, alive and well, location unknown.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked the independent panel examining the dismissal of charges relating to the 2012 hit-and-run case against Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya if it can be re-opened. Prosecutors abruptly decided not to arraign Boss on a charge of “reckless driving causing death” after the other charges relating to the incident had lapsed due to the statute of limitations.

“I’ve asked them to study if I can order a re-investigation into the case. We’re in the stage of establishing facts about the justice process.”

There has been a public outcry over the handling of the Boss case that has dragged on for nearly eight years since the incident in the Thong Lor suburb of Bangkok in the early morning of September 3 in 2012. Thais have openly opined on social media about the ludicrous aspects of the investigation, including the latest witnesses who had recently appeared, to provide contrary evidence about the crash (one of whom was killed in a motorbike incident in Chiang Mai last week), and the failure of Boss to appear in court 8 times, and eventually being able to flee the country.

Jaruchart Maadthong, one of the 2 new witnesses, was killed as a result of a collision between 2 motorbikes on Huay Kaew Road in Chiang Mai last Thursday. The incident occurred just days after he was named as one of new witnesses in the long-running case.

The PM set up a 9-member independent panel headed by Vicha Mahakhun, known as a local “former graftbuster” to examine the prosecution’s dismissal of the charges and the legal aspects of the case. He has also ordered the seizure of the body of witness Jaruchart Maadthong for a new autopsy in Bangkok to allay any suspicions about his untimely death.

The 2 new witnesses contradicted earlier evidence and had told prosecution investigators that Boss was not driving at high speed and they had seen the motorcycle of the deceased policeman, Wichian Klanprasert, “cut in front of his Ferrari”. Their statements, appearing nearly eight years after the incident, were enough to convince the prosecutors to drop the final and most serious charge.

The twists, turns and coincidences in the Boss Yoovidhya case, and the lack of a prosecution, have turned the spotlight on the Thai justice system, both in Thailand and overseas, which appears to be unable to successfully prosecute cases involving the country’s rich and famous.

The PM says that he needs to ensure transparency.

“As a supervisor of the police, I’ve asked them if they can seize the body for a new autopsy. They’ll have to talk to his family. We have to lessen the doubts with facts.”

A team of doctors at Chiang Mai University’s faculty of medicine on Monday concluded that Jaruchart died of massive bleeding in his brain and in his stomach and there were no injuries to suggest that he had been shot. They also said that the injuries were consistent with the motorbike incident and the victim’s head hitting the road. Jaruchart was not wearing a helmet at the time and, anecdotally, had been drinking before the incident.

According to Office of the Attorney General deputy spokesman the panel has held a press conference at 10am this morning to reveal the results of the investigation so far.

The head of the panel added that it was too soon to say if the committee would recommend that police challenge the prosecutors’ decision to drop the reckless driving charge and reopen the investigation.

We’ll recommend action only if it can be taken.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Protests

Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests

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Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests | Thaiger
PHOTO: Demonstration attendance has been falling in the face of Covid-19, coups and crackdowns.

While protesters against the Thai government are continuing as they have for endless months, attendance is lessening in the face of crackdowns, coups and Covid-19. The throngs of 10,000 plus protesters, mostly energetic youth, that waved The Hunger Games 3 finger salute and demanded change in Thailand last summer have thinned to a few thousand or less these days.

The government isn’t in the clear yet though, as the protester’s calls to replace the current government, lessen the power of the Thai monarchy, and draw up a new constitution are still popular ideas. But a number of factors are causing protester size and vigour to wane.

The second wave of Covid in December quickly curbed the daily demonstrations for fear of spreading the virus. After that, the coup in Myanmar on February 1 has brought massive protests with international attention shifting to the growing humanitarian crisis just across the border. On top of the pandemic and the Burmese coup, the Thai government has taken a much more hardline approach to protesters in recent months.

Police began fighting back against mass demonstrations, dispersing crowds with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. And after 2 years of leniency, the government has begun prosecuting people under the strict lèse-majesté laws, where offending the monarchy can carry harsh punishment including a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Anon Nampa, a human-rights lawyer, and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student activist, have already been arrested under this law and held without bail. Arrests like these have been demoralising for the pro-democracy movement, and have scared away a lot of Thai protesters. Many have shifted focus to more immediate efforts to demand the release of the detained protest leaders.

Even with the crowds shrinking, the protests have already brought about change, bringing once unspeakable conversations into the national conversation, and keeping pressure on Thailand’s leaders. Opposition is growing, with efforts to push no-confidence votes and amendments to the constitution being constantly proposed and advocated.

SOURCE: The Economist

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor

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VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook - Krystal Bar in Thong Lor was the site of a Covid-19 Outbreak

A third Covid-19 wave surging through Thailand is spreading through entertainment centres, including high-end VIP clubs rumoured to be popular with elite government officials. 559 Covid-19 infections and 1 death were reported today and the outbreak, which began in bars and clubs in the Thong Lor area of Bangkok among other nightlife hotspots, is surging, reaching 20 provinces throughout Thailand. Outbreaks in Chon Buri, Pattaya, and Phuket have also been linked directly to evening entertainment venues, such as the dance music festival in Phuket last weekend that resulted in 10 infections. Now, evidence is emerging that the wave is spreading through Bangkok’s wealthy elite and government officials.

In Phuket, where 70% vaccination of residents has been a primary focus in order to re-open to desperately needed tourism, the new outbreak has brought bar closures and new restrictions. And it looks like Songkran celebrations across the country will be muted, if not cancelled.

With nightlife and hospitality workers being disproportionately affected by the third wave of Covid-19, many are airing their frustrations with the VIP elite class contributing to the outbreak, including a trending hashtag #CovidThonglor. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob was one of the first cabinet members to test positive for Covid-19, amid rumours that he had recently attended or been in proximity with someone who attended Krystal Club, an upscale entertainment business. Though he denies being there, the club is allegedly so popular among politicians and officials that it is often referred to by the nickname “Government House 2”. Nearly a third of cabinet ministers are now self-isolating for fear of Covid-19 exposure.

With 200,000 baht minimum spending limits, it’s a high-society hotspot that may be spreading Covid-19 from the rich VIP customers to the poor staff and everyone they come in contact with. Calls for government officials and other elites who attended VIP clubs like this to disclose their potentially embarrassing timelines have so far been mostly unheeded.

In Bangkok, hospitals and private medical facilities have been warning of a shortage of testing kits and Covid-ready hospital beds. Field hospitals have been erected to prepare as the outbreak expands with surging cases. Experts think the new outbreak may be contained in a month or two, but fear in Bangkok it may take much longer to recover.

SOURCE: SCMP

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