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DNA samples to be sought of all Koh Tao residents

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– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

DNA samples to be sought of all Koh Tao residents
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police are collecting DNA samples of all people on Koh Tao, an island off Surat Thani province, in a bid to find the murderers of two British tourists.

“We are getting closer to solving this case,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday, “Now, we know for sure that the culprits are Asians”.

The bodies of the two Britons were found on the island’s beach early Monday last week.

Prawit, however, declined to give any specific timeframe for the arrest of the culprits.

“We have already dispatched experts from all relevant fields to the crime scene. They are doing their best,” he said.

The brutal killings of the tourists have made headlines in both local and international media. Evidence suggests that the female victim was sexually violated.

The Office of Police Forensic Science chief, Lt-General Kamrop Panyakaew, disclosed that a unit under his office’s supervision had been assigned to collect DNA samples of all people on Koh Tao.

This move is in addition to the collection of DNA samples from 30 suspects earlier.

“We will submit one set of DNA samples and wait for their results before collecting another set of samples. We will do this until we find the culprits,” Colonel Chaiyasak Uakrissadathikarn, the deputy chief of the local forensic science unit, said.

Provincial Police Region 8 chief Lt-General Panya Mamen has now also ordered police to trace workers on fishing trawlers who had stopped by on Koh Tao on the day of the crime, according to Chumphon police chief Maj-General Suttinat Sudyod.

Koh Tao is also near Chumphon province. According to Suttinat, police are looking for possible clues from coastal fishermen’s villages and fishing trawlers’ crewmen, too.

More than 50 marine policemen used speedboats to check fishing trawlers in the area yesterday.

Surat Thani Police Station superintendent Colonel Paisal Sangthep admitted that the Bt200,000 bounty had not attracted any tip-off yet.

“If you have useful information, please come forward,” he said.

An informed source said police were in the process of questioning two suspects. One of them is a Thai while the other is a migrant worker.

Entrepreneurs on Koh Tao are now being asked to increase lighting and install CCTV to help boost safety on the island.

DNA tests will be done in Singapore
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Semen found on the body of one of the two British tourists murdered on Koh Tao in Surat Thani province last Sunday will be examined in a Singapore laboratory, national police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung said yesterday.

Somyot said the DNA test would be able to identify the race, hair colour and skin colour of the person, which would help with the police investigation.

It is understood cigarette butts found at the crime scene will also be sent to Singapore for DNA analysis, although Somyot did not mention the butts in his remarks to reporters yesterday during a visit to the island.

Somyot had earlier said the authorities would ask the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct the test, as the police’s Institute of Forensic Medicine’s DNA test was capable of only identifying the sex.

He said police had clues that pointed to the perpetrators of the crime being Asian men and he was “confident” they remained on the island in the Gulf of Thailand. Surveillance camera footage obtained one day after the brutal slayings showed an Asian-looking man running from the scene.

Somyot was speaking on Koh Tao, where police investigators simulated the crime using a few scenarios.

They were: the attackers followed the victims from a bar; the attackers randomly selected them after spotting them walking; with police following the route they suspect the attackers took before they killed the victims on the beach.

Somyot said police were trying to pinpoint how long the attackers were at the scene based on cigarettes that were discarded there. Police found, through DNA analysis, that one of the cigarette butts was smoked by two people, and semen from both men was found in the female victim’s body.

Somyot said a theory had been established about another possible weapon used in the murder apart from a blood-stained garden hoe found near the crime scene. The theory centred on the weapon being returned from where it was taken from in a hurried manner.

Three musicians played at beach

The general said surveillance camera footage of all travellers coming onto the island and leaving it in the days leading up to last Sunday was being examined.

DNA samples had been collected from 12 suspects and another 30 people who were potential suspects.

Somyot said migrant workers and Thai residents lived near the crime scene, including three musicians of unknown nationality who were playing on Chor Por Ror beach, where the crime took place, on the night of the murders. Police had not excluded there being other potential suspects, whom he said could be anyone including Thai residents or tourists staying on the island.

Somyot offered a Bt100,000 reward, which is on top of the Bt100,000 bounty offered by Koh Kao residents and tour operators on the island, for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday issued a letter of condolence to his British counterpart David Cameron and the families of victims, Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, both aged 24.

He vowed to closely coordinate with the British authorities and the British embassy about the hunt for the killers.

Prayuth had earlier apologised over his controversial bikini comments in the wake of the murders. He suggested women in bikinis could be more vulnerable to attack.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Facebook, Twitter may face charges for allegedly allowing lèse majesté content

Caitlin Ashworth

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Facebook, Twitter may face charges for allegedly allowing lèse majesté content | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Standard

Facebook and Twitter could face charges for failing to block so called lèse majesté posts that allegedly violate Thailand’s Computer Crime Act. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society says the social media platforms were warned about Thailand’s laws regarding content that insults the Thai Monarchy or threatens national security and peace, but failed to remove all the illegal posts.

Letters were sent out to the operators of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube giving them 15 days to take down the illegal posts or charges would be pressed, according to Minister of Digital Economy and Society Buddhipongse Punnakanta. Since not all the posts were removed, the ministry has asked the Technology Crime Suppression Police to step in and prosecute the social media platforms.

The Thai government has been using the blunt tool of “shooting the messenger” in its battle against content deemed disrespectful of the Thai Monarchy under its lèse majesté laws.

“It is the first time in Thailand that the (computer crime) law is exercised to prosecute the service providers. Charges will go to the parent company of all the organisations. The police will use Thai laws because the offences happened in Thailand. I believe the police can do it.”

The minister says Facebook was told to take down 661 posts, but they only removed 225. Twitter was told to remove 69 posts, he says, but only took down 5. YouTube was told to remove 289 posts and all of them were blocked. Social media platforms that violate the Computer Crime Act could face an up to 200,000 baht fine per illegal post and a daily fine of up to 5,000 until the content is removed.

Buddhipongse filed the complaint which also cited nearly 1,000 social media posts that allegedly violate the act. They say the posts offending the Thai Monarchy were made during the pro-democracy protest in Bangkok last weekend.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty, sealing Burmese border, Thai airways creditors | September 24

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty, sealing Burmese border, Thai airways creditors | September 24 | The Thaiger

Latest update for September 26 deadline of visa amnesty.

Deadline set for THAI creditors

A date has now been set for creditors to recover their money from Thai Airways. Applications for debt repayment through corporate bonds started yesterday. Applications filed by private individuals are being received at the Securities and Exchange Commission office in Bangkok. The deadline for applications is November 2. It’s ben reported that there are some 10 million creditors. The airline’s total debt stands at 352.4 billion baht.

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control remains on alert, and patrols increased along the Thai/Myanmar border, as Thailand’s western neighbour continues to register a spike in new Covid 19 cases. Between 430 and 670 people each day, over the past 4 days, have tested positive for Covid-19. The DDC’s director-general says that Thai “business operators should stop hiring foreign workers, especially Burmese people, to help prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand.” Myanmar’s number of confirmed cases has now reached 7,177 with 129 Burmese succumbing to the virus at this stage. Yesterday the four national papers suspended circulation, waiting out the sudden surge of cases. In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the leaky jungle border to deter people from crossing the 2,000 kilometre-long border illegally.

Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says former immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, shouldn’t assume his transfer to an inactive post in the PM’s Office was unlawful. Surachate, known by the nickname “Big Joke” headed up Thailand’s Immigration Bureau until he was unceremoniously side-lined by the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha early last year. It’s understood he is now planning to sue the PM, claiming that the lack of any investigation against him shows there were no grounds for the transfer. For his part, Deputy PM Wissanu says Surachate has the right to sue the PM if he so wishes but shouldn’t assume his transfer is similar to that of the former National Security Council chief, who was transferred under former PM Yingluck Shinawatra in 2011. That transfer was subsequently deemed unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court. Wissanu doesn’t rule out the possibility of Surachate being re-instated. For his part, Surachate claims his petitions to the PM have fallen on deaf ears.

New army chief declares he’ll protect Thailand’s monarchy and restore peace

Thailand’s new army chief says he pledges to restore peace and protect the country’s monarchy. In a ceremony formerly saying farewell to retiring generals, incoming army chief Narongphan Jitkaewtae (jit-gow-tear) said he would restore peace and be loyal to the Thai Monarchy. His statement comes at a time when many people are speaking out against Thailand’s military-run government, and calling for changes to the constitution (voted for by referendum in 2017). He said… “Protecting the monarchy with absolute loyalty and supporting the government to resolve national problems and working to advance the country are tasks for which the generals deserve the honour.”

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s ownership of the land. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has faced flak online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews as a consequence, after he criticised one of the student anti-government protest leaders. Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as the travel review website has been flooded with negative reviews.

Bangkok officials issue advice to motorists to avoid parliament area due to protest

Bangkok motorists have been told avoid the roads around Thailand’s new parliament building today, with a political rally taking place there as we speak. The rally was announced by anti-government protesters at the end of their weekend demonstration. The Metropolitan Police Bureau advise drivers to avoid Kiak Kai Road, in front of the parliament building, as well as a number of other roads in the vicinity. The Thaiger will bring you some of the latest vision from the protest this afternoon which you can watch on our Facebook page with a full report on tomorrow’s Thailand News Today.

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Thailand

982 lèse majesté social media posts cited in police complaint

Caitlin Ashworth

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982 lèse majesté social media posts cited in police complaint | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

Nearly 1,000 so called lèse majesté posts on social media have been cited in a police complaint for allegedly violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act, some allegedly criticising and insulting the Thai Monarchy. The complaints were filed by Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta.

The police report says the social media posts were shared during the pro-democracy protest over the weekend. Altogether, 982 social media posts allegedly violate Thailand’s Computer Crime Act. The ministry has also applied for a warrant to block content on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter at violate the act.

In Thailand, lèse majesté (insulting the monarch) is criminalised by Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code… Since 2018, there have been no known new (lèse majesté) cases, but the authorities have invoked other laws, such as the Computer Crimes Act and sedition laws, to deal with perceived damages and insults to the monarchy. – Wikipedia

The complaints and subsequent legal threats, are a rear-guard action by a government and officialdom rattled by the number of protesters and by the extent of their demands, touching on the culturally taboo topic of Thailand’s revered monarchy. Another protest is on today at the front of the Thai parliament in Bangkok.

Out of the 982 posts, 661 were on Facebook, 289 were on YouTube, 69 were on Twitter and 5 were on other websites. Buddhipongse says 2 Facebook posts and 3 Instagram posts violate an Article 14 in the Computer Crime Act which regards posts that many cause damage to the country’s national security or cause a public panic. Those who violate Article 14 face up to 5 years in prison and an up to 100,000 baht.

Social media platforms could also face charges for violating the act’s Article 27 for failing to comply with orders from the court to take down the posts. They could face a fine up to 200,000 baht and a daily fine of 5,000 until the posts are taken down.

Other posts allegedly violate the act’s Article 20 which prohibits the spread of information online that might have an impact on national security, or that might be contradictory to the peace. The Nation Thailand says each post that violates Article 20 could face a 200,000 baht fine.

Click HERE to read an unofficial English translation of the Computer Crime Act.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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