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Foreigners arrested over eco-vandalism off Koh Phangan



PHOTO: Supapong Chaolan

A Hungarian and Dutch man have been arrested for picking up sea animals and taking photos with them whilst diving off Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand. They then posted them on social media, probably oblivious to their potentially criminal act. Police described the two as “long-stayers on Koh Phangan”. Their selfies sparked plenty of outrage from Thai netizens who take this type of eco-vandalism very seriously.

“We tracked down the suspects and identified them as Attila Ott, a Hungarian, and Francesco Simonetti, from The Netherlands. Ott is a diving instructor and owner of Pink Panther Scuba Dive Club on Koh Pha Ngan, while Simonetti is a chef at Il Barracuda Restaurant & BBQ, also on Koh Pha Ngan.”

“Salad Beach is a protected area, which makes their actions punishable by a maximum fine of 100,000 baht or 1-year imprisonment, or both.”

Police charged the 2 men with “intruding in an area designated for environmental protection”.

In the video (below), the duo are seen “tickling” marine life with their selfie stick and taking photos with them.

Department of Marine and Coastal Resources director-general Sophon Thongdee reported the pair’s misdemeanours to the media yesterday. The two had confessed to taking photos and video with sea animals at Salad Beach on Koh Phangan and then posting them on the internet. But officials were sufficiently unhappy with the duo’s antics they decided to throw the book at them.

They investigated the suspects’ travel history and fined Simonetti for failing to notify immigration officials within 24 hours after changing his address.

“Meanwhile, Kritiyaporn Khamsing, Ott’s wife, was also fined for failing to notify immigration officials in 24 hours after taking in an immigrant who was allowed to stay in Thailand temporarily.”

“If you find any offenders of marine and coastal resources, please contact call centre 1310 immediately.”

เหมาะสมหรือไม่..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ดำน้ำแล้วไปจับสิ่งมีชีวิตใต้ทะเลมาถ่ายรูปแบบนี้…

Posted by สิทธิโรจน์ แก้วหนองเสม็ด on Sunday, August 30, 2020

SOURCE: Nation Thailand


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  1. sam thompson

    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 8:09 am

    If the guy owns and runs a ‘Scuba Dive Club’ then he should or would understand the rules and the consequences of his stupid actions and would not be ‘oblivious to their potentially criminal act’

  2. Preesy Chepuce

    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 9:43 am

    This kind of hostility towards farang is incredibly stupid and short-sighted given how desperately Thailand needs tourism and farang knowledge transfer.
    Fining for the address issues just looks like a shakedown for cash.
    The smart response would be to put them on marine ecology training courses and litter picking duties on the beach to make amends and publicise that, but instead they have the bad publicity of saying don’t come on a diving holiday to Thailand. Not gonna get any tourism recovery with actions like this against farang. They probably genuinely didn’t have a clue that what they were doing was a problem.

    • Alan

      Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 10:48 am

      Foreigners have no business messing with Thai life, when the countries they come from have been negligent toward their own eco system, I mean the whole European Union. The key word is respect. Give them the maximum penalty. They give foreign tourists a bad name.

      • rinky stingpiece

        Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 2:41 pm

        What a plonker you are. Are you pretending to be a farang?! lol
        They didn’t “mess with Thai life”, they swam into an MPA and fondled a few creatures without realising it. The EU has far stronger marine protection than Thailand, but as you’re not an expert in that area, you wouldn’t know.
        If plonkers treat tourists so harshly, they will give Thailand a bad name… as you say, the key word is respect… respect farang, they are the customers, actions like this are bad publicity for Thailand tourism, the correct response is education and engaging people in looking after the marine environment. The DCMR understands this, which is why they actively recruit farangs to be marine rangers.

      • Steven Turner

        Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 3:42 pm

        yes lets give them 10 years hard labour and there familys for touching marine life hahah Alan you are a plonker

    • David

      Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      Typical farang action no care for anything in Thai national park is a diving instructor so he knows what he is doing So he set this example when he takes groups on diving tours . He should be ban from Thailand for 3 years and have his divers certification cancelled for the same period. Throw the book at him and you farang sympathisers with this type of behaviour need a wake up call also. Farang should be setting an example that’s why Thai don’t respect us because of morons like this. He will just pay his way out and continue his shit attitude

      • Jim

        Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 9:37 pm

        Was this google-translated from your language, “David”?

  3. Jim

    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    When I come across a spiteful and brainless chav like you, Alan, I begin to understand why Thailand wants to get rid of farangs.

  4. TS

    Friday, September 4, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    Shocking crime of extreme animal cruelty. Actually picking up and snapping a pic of the rare endangered sea slug, prolly giving it momentary flash blindness. Thank gawd they posted this on facebook or we’d never know. For this, they’ll be fined heavily, lose their jobs, deported and blacklisted.

  5. Christopher Williams

    Friday, September 4, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    Alan without knowing the full story you’d have them locked up and the key thrown away. Most reasoning persons would wait for the court outcome.

  6. Michael Lewis

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    A common sea cucumber, you can find hundreds of these under the sand along Jomthien beach any day you choose and you can pick all of them up for free without worrying if someone is about to lock you up and relieve you of your successful business.

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