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‘Phoenix’ fails to attract any bidders at auction. Sits rotting in Phuket boatyard.

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‘Phoenix’ fails to attract any bidders at auction. Sits rotting in Phuket boatyard. | The Thaiger

Last month’s auction to sell Phoenix, the tour boat that capsized causing the drowning of 47 Chinese tourists on July 5 last year, has failed to secure a buyer. Meanwhile the cursed vessel sits gathering dust and accumulating storage fees of 100,000 baht per month at the Rassada boat yard in Phuket.

The boat went up for auction last month at a starting price of 900,000 baht but, not surprisingly, the offer didn’t attract any interest. Investigations into the vessel’s sea-worthiness have already declared that major modification will have to be made for it to gain a certificate for operation.

The Thaiger also notes that Asian cultures have an aversion to ghosts, and with 47 lost souls on Phoenix after the boat sank, any buyer will have to cope with a major refit as well as the more difficult PR exercise before anyone would ever step foot on her decks again.

Authorities believe the boat may be sold to a foreign company and used as a private boat rather than for tour operations in the future. They also speculate it could be harvested for spare parts on another boat in the future.

So far the Anti Money Laundering Office has spent a reported 700,000 baht storing Phoenix at the Rattanachai Boatyard, east of Phuket’s main business hub of Phuket Town.

Phoenix was seized during the investigation into the vessel’s sinking when it was found that a Thai shelf company had been used as a legal ‘shop-front’ for Chinese owners who had funded the boat’s construction.

Another tour boat, the Serenita, also capsized on the same night during the freak storm off the south west coast of Phuket, but the 42 passengers were rescued.

'Phoenix' fails to attract any bidders at auction. Sits rotting in Phuket boatyard. | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Kritsada Mueanhawong



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Bangkok

Two Chinese and two Thais arrested over huge ‘ice’ haul

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Two Chinese and two Thais arrested over huge ‘ice’ haul | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

Authorities have intercepted a container carrying a tonne 11,000 kilograms) of crystal methamphetamine (ice) with a street value estimated around 2 billion baht, before it could leave the country.

Police also announced the arrest of suspects involved in the drug haul as Chinese nationals 24 year old Huang Guoxion and 44 year old Zhou Qingchu, along with Thais 57 year old Suban Manachanon and 62 year old Joi sae Fong.

The two Thais and Huang were arrested at a container yard in Chon Buri’s Sri Racha district on Saturday, while Zhou was tracked down to his condo in Bangkok’s Huai Kwang district.

The container was found stuffed with 612 boxes, 34 of which were filled with the drug disguised to look like tea bags, while the remaining boxes carried shoes.

The four suspects have been charged with having traffickable quantities of narcotics in their possession with intent to sell and have been handed over to the Narcotics Suppression Division for legal action.

This crackdown is part of the authorities’ efforts to tackle drug problems. At present, most prisons in the country house inmates held on drugrelated charges.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Crime

Italy’s ‘Bonny & Clyde’ arrested in Pattaya, Thailand

The Thaiger

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Italy’s ‘Bonny & Clyde’ arrested in Pattaya, Thailand | The Thaiger

Local Chon Buri police have caught up with two Italians who have been on an Interpol red notice since 2012 after they fled Italy after being sentenced to eight years in jail for fraud.

58 year old Francesco Galdelli had been parading himself as George Clooney chewing investors into buying into his bogus clothes business. His wife, 45 year old Vanja Goffi was also arrested in the raid of a Pattaya luxury villa over the weekend.

The arrests follow authorities in Italy contacting Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division who had the couple under surveillance. The couple, aka. ‘The Italian Bonny & Clyde’, had already been sued by the real George Clooney who told a Milan court in 2010 they had fraudulently used his name to promote their bogus clothing brand “GC Exclusive by George Clooney.”

The couple, on the run, moved to Pattaya in 2014, and established themselves in the local expat community, donating money to local children’s charities. Police say that Mr Galdelli was arrested at the Pattaya Dusit Thani hotel but escaped after allegedly paying a prison guard 20,00 baht.

The couple are currently in custody in Pattaya before their expected extradition back to Italy.

George Clooney says addio to Francesco and ciao bella to Vanja.

Italy's 'Bonny & Clyde' arrested in Pattaya, Thailand | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

US Navy veteran locked up in Thai prison, family pleas for help

The Thaiger

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US Navy veteran locked up in Thai prison, family pleas for help | The Thaiger

by Lauren Talarico

A US Navy veteran from Texas remains locked up in a Thai prison for something his family says he didn’t do. Derrick Keller was arrested on August 20, 2018. But his family says the allegations against him are not true and they desperately want him home.

Derrick Keller’s family doesn’t know what to do next after their cries for help from politicians and lawyers have gone unanswered. They fear if something doesn’t happen fast Keller could spend the rest of his life in a Thai prison. 44 year old Derrick Keller is from Richmond, Texas. He is a son, a husband, a father to two kids and a Navy veteran.

“He was always a jokester,” his father said. “Always liked to make people laugh.”

“He’s the best man I’ve ever known,” said his 19 year old son Mark Keller.

But Derrick is 16,000 kilometres away behind bars at the notorious Klong Prem Prison in Bangkok.

“We are still in shock,” said Debra. “We still can’t fathom what’s taking place”

In 2015 Keller and his wife Tanya moved to China with their children. Tanya was offered a job she couldn’t pass up as the lead dance instructor at Shenzhen Dance Academy.

Derrick gave up his trucking company in East Bernard and worked odd jobs in China. He tended bar, coached a baseball team and perused acting, a childhood passion. In 2016 the family says a recruiter reached out to him about a company looking for a “Western face.” It was called Eagle Gates Group.

“The company was represented as completely legit,” his brother-in-law Ryan Murray explained. “Totally legal. It would just be an acting opportunity.”

Over six months, Keller acted in several corporate videos. His family says he was paid $15,000 to do so. After the job was complete, he told family he never heard from the company again, until a vacation to Thailand last August. Keller was arrested after he and his wife landed in Thailand for a vacation.

“They got off the plane and had a lot of Thailand police officers waiting for them,” Murray explained.

Thai media reported his arrest and claimed he was part of a Ponzi scheme which defrauded investors of millions of dollars.

“An American actor staying in Phuket as a tourist has been arrested in connection with a multinational scam operation based in Singapore that has allegedly defrauded Thai investors of 235 million baht.”

“I think at first they thought it was just a misunderstanding,” Murray said. “And it turned out to be something much worse.”

Keller was arrested on August 20, 2018. One day later he called his father to tell him he was being detained.

“That’s the last I’ve heard from him,” his dad said through tears. “That’s the last time I heard his voice. Been bad. Horrible. Absolutely horrible. I mean, like I said, I haven’t heard him. God knows I love my son.”

Watch a Texas TV report about the story HERE.

US Navy veteran locked up in Thai prison, family pleas for help | News by The Thaiger

No family member has seen or talked to Keller since he has been in prison.

“I’m always scared that I’m just going to wake up to the worst information I’ve ever heard,” cried his son, Mark.

“That something beyond horrific about this has happened to my dad like maybe he’s died in incarceration or something. It’s the uncertainty that really kills me.”

“The prison that he’s in is notorious for human rights violations,” Murray explained.

“There’s a lot of bribery. It’s very corrupt. He’s sleeping on concrete, sharing a cell with 50 other people.”

US Navy veteran locked up in Thai prison, family pleas for help | News by The Thaiger

Deputy DSI chief Songsak Raksakskul (left) and DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang brief the media on the arrest of 10 suspects in the alleged Eagle Gates Group investment fraud, at the DSI offices in Bangkok.

Missionaries have related to the family that Derrick’s lost 30 kilos in 10 months. The family says they’ve provided proof that Derrick is innocent and was simply an actor in a corporate video. They claim they’ve reached out to President Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator John Cornyn and a long list of other local politicians but haven’t been offered any help.

“The country called… he answered,” said his father, a Vietnam veteran.

“When the country called… I answered. And now we call and we don’t get an answer.”

Derrick Keller’s trial date is set for July. He’s facing 35 years in prison.

“During questioning, Keelor told officers that he was an actor working in China, and was hired by a Singaporean to be Executive Director of Eagle Gates Group Co Ltd in order to build credibility and reputation for the company. The DSI noted that they would investigate Kellor’s role further.

The DSI also reported that their investigations had discovered more than 1 billion baht in investment had been transferred out of the victim’s bank accounts.” – Bangkok Post

“The court itself, from what we’ve been able to find out from lawyers and our own research, has a 95% conviction rate,” Murray said.

“We’ve been told that if he admits guilt they will be easier on him and that it’s not worth fighting against. Derrick is a man of integrity… I do not see him admitting to a crime he didn’t commit so that has me worried.”

A change.org petition has been started. To help, click HERE.

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