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UPDATE: Israeli escapee given slap-on-the-wrist fine

PHOTO: Israeli escapee gets a small 2,000 baht fine. (via SoundCloud / BKK Post)

Ohad Baruch, the Israeli tourist who violated Thai law and the emergency decree by fleeing his SHA+ hotel to Pattaya and Koh Samui while waiting for RT-PCR tests, has received a small fine and will face deportation. The punishment for violating the emergency decree is up to 40,000 baht and 2 years in prison, but today the Bangkok South Municipal Court decided not to give a sentence that would be a warning and deterrent for others, and instead fined him just 2,000 baht for his indiscretion that led to a national manhunt.

Officials had also spoken of charging the Israeli on an additional count of a foreign national who fails to stay where he was permitted in the country, which is standard Thai law and not part of the Covid-19 Emergency Decree and carries a fine of 5,000 baht.

In what has become routine for all violators of the toothless Emergency Decree, authorities have dismissed that charge and decided to ding the Israeli man just 5% of the fine under the Emergency Decree, essentially a slap on the wrist. The court said since he pled guilty in court, the majority of charges and fines and all prison sentencing were dropped.

The Israeli man has now been cleared of all charges and has been handed over to Immigration Police who will hold him and determine possible deportation.

Ohad Baruch landed in Bangkok on December 17 and left his SHA+ hotel before his test results arrived, telling them he was visiting a friend in the hospital before never returning. He attempted to hide out in Pattaya but was denied a room without submitting a passport, then fled to Koh Samui island. As a national manhunt grew, the Israeli man contacted the Israeli Embassy saying he wanted to surrender and health officials and police took him into custody at Samui Pier Bangrak Restaurant the afternoon of December 22.

His initial RT-PCR test came back with positive results and faint traces of Omicron, but after 6 days on the lam, he tested negative in Koh Samui 3 separate times. While he was cleared of Covid-19, he still clearly violated Thai law including the Emergency Decree in place for the pandemic, and a lesser general law to punish people who enter the country and go places they are not allowed to go.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.