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

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US Navy veteran locked up in Thai prison, family pleas for help | 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 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 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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok

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At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikipedia
At-risk members of Thailand’s Social Security scheme can get free Covid-19 tests in Bangkok starting tomorrow. The Ministry of Labour will provide the tests, covering members under Sections 33, 39, and 40 of the Social Security Act. The programme will be held at the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan) in Bangkok’s Din Daeng district.
The ministry expects to test up to 300 people per hour, with results to be received in 1 to 2 days. If anyone is found to be infected, they will be sent to hospitals under the Social Security scheme for free treatment. Currently, 81 hospitals are registered with the ministry, offering a total of over 1,000 beds.
At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid-19 patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx

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Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia

Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals in 2 of the hardest hit areas.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

The move to help accommodate hospitals was due to the army chief’s concerns over the recent 3rd wave, which has seen daily infections increase to the thousands. The chief instructed each army unit to provide extra beds and facilities to patients in each hospital after teaming with public health agencies.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

Since April 1 there has been a steady growth of new infections, described as the third wave in Thai media – much higher than the number of daily infections in the first and second waves.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Songkran

Bangkok sees 7.87 million vehicles over Songkran holiday

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Bangkok sees 7.87 million vehicles over Songkran holiday | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Millions traveled for Songkran, but not nearly as many as usual, like this 2013 Songkran photo.

Covid-19 and its third wave be damned, close to 8 million vehicles travelled in and out of Bangkok so far during this year’s Songkran festival holiday period. Thailand’s Ministry of Transport released figures yesterday on the yearly holiday and revealed that more than 7.87 million cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes hit the roads and travelled into and out of Bangkok during the festival period, despite almost all official celebrations, events and gatherings being cancelled nationwide again this year.

The figures, calculating incoming and outgoing traffic between April 10 – 14, show that travel is much lower than originally predicted but massively higher than last year’s travel. The drop makes sense as many predictions may have been made before the last minute closures of entertainment venues and cancellation of Songkran events due to the recent third wave outbreak of the B117 strain of Covid-19.

The 7.87 million vehicles figure is about 30% lower than predicted. There were also an estimated 4.52 million people using public transportation such as buses over the holiday period, again lower than predicted, this time by about 36 per cent.

On the other hand, in what may be a bad sign for Thailand’s health, at a time when new daily records are being set for Covid-19 infections, many more people are ignoring the pandemic and travelling anyway.

The nearly 8 million vehicles on the roads to Bangkok during Songkran represent a nearly 35% increase over last years Coronavirus-muted figures. And when social distancing is of utmost importance, the 4 and a half million people travelling by public transport is a startling 74% increase over the nearly completely locked-down figures of 2020’s Songkran holiday period.

One final note for the “if Covid-19 doesn’t get you, climate change will” crowd: Of the 7.87 million cars, buses, trucks, and motorbikes on the road, a very non-eco-friendly 7.4 million of them were private vehicles.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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