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Hunt for Koh Tao killers stalls

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Hunt for Koh Tao killers stalls
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police are confident that their investigation and the evidence obtained will help them catch the killers of the two British backpackers who were bludgeoned to death on Monday on the resort island of Koh Tao, the police general supervising the probe said yesterday.

However, Lt Gen Panya Mamen, commander of Police Region 8, did admit that the investigation into the gruesome killings of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, had to start over as DNA samples collected from the victims and the scene do not match any of the 12 suspects.

“We still believe we will bring the attackers to justice. Police have collected a lot of evidence and interviewed many people, and this should help us find the culprits. There is a lot of evidential information that we cannot reveal to the media right now,” he said, adding the investigation would expand to nearby islands.

Sadly, the clues revealed by Panya so far have proved to be blank and the suspects have been released.

Preliminary forensic evidence revealed that the semen in Witheridge’s body did not match the DNA collected from the 12 suspects. Accordingly, all suspects, including the migrant workers, have been released.

Also, the two DNA samples collected from one of the three cigarette butts found in the crime scene “did not contradict” the semen found in Witheridge’s body, though it did not match the samples collected from the 12 suspects.

Panya said Christopher Ware, a male travelling companion of Miller, was now a free man and could leave Thailand if he wished. He had initially been stopped from boarding a plane back to England and was asked to remain in Thailand pending DNA results.

He was initially suspected of having a hand in the murders as he had scratches all over his body and a serious wound on his hand. However, closer inspection proved these wounds were old.

Panya also said that Ware had been very cooperative with the police and would be considered a witness.

Tourist Police chief Maj Gen Apichai Ti-amataya, meanwhile, said the British Embassy had taken Ware and his brother James under its wing yesterday and it is likely that the brothers have already boarded a flight back home. If further evidence proves that Ware was involved in the killings, then police will ask the British Embassy to help have him extradited, he said.

As for the pair of stained pants found in Miller’s luggage, the general admitted that the substance found on the clothing was not blood and that they belonged to Miller and the pair had been put in the victim’s luggage by the first group of police officers.

When asked about the possible motive behind the murders, Panya said police had not ruled out any possibilities – ranging from robbery and rape to personal anguish.

“From the available evidence, we believe that there were more than two attackers. I am well aware that the murders have affected Thailand’s reputation and travellers’ confidence. I’m asking for more time as I want to work on a step-by-step basis,” he said.

Meanwhile, Witheridge’s three female friends have already returned home, but have promised to return to Thailand if needed.

Separately, unconfirmed reports say that police have found a man who matches the man captured in the security cameras.

Apichai told reporters that investigators would also try to find out who the victims had been in contact with on the fateful night, adding that they would certainly have a clearer picture of what really happened if they could locate the Asian man seen in the CCTV.

Pol General Jarumporn Suramanee, adviser to the Royal Thai Police, said British consul Michael Hancock had accompanied the Witheridge family to meet him yesterday and to ask about the latest developments. The relatives, who are in Bangkok to reclaim Witheridge’s body, were seen crying and hugging each other ahead of the police briefing.

Jarumporn said police have asked the Foreign Ministry to facilitate the transport of Witheridge’s body to England, adding that Hancock would be keeping the families up-to-date about the developments.

“Her family have asked the media to be aware of their feelings when reporting the case, which has been a great loss and brought them great sorrow,” the police officer said.

He also declined to reveal results of the autopsy or forensic evidence, saying it would affect the rights of the victims.

Hancock also said he could not comment on the case as he was merely a coordinator, though the Witheridge family had no questions over the autopsy results. He also called on the media to only report useful information as the family was in deep grief.

Meanwhile, Surat Thani Governor Chatpong Chatraphuti said Koh Tao would no longer be allowed to host spin-offs of the full-moon party that has been drawing hordes of backpackers to the neighbouring Koh Pha-ngan. “We don’t want any more crimes,” he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | German Embassy, More STV tourists, Thanathorn in trouble | October 27

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | German Embassy, More STV tourists, Thanathorn in trouble | October 27 | The Thaiger

Today’s latest Thai news from The Thaiger, hosted by Tim Newton with full, echoey sound! Sorry about the minor audio issues!

From Bangkok to Berlin – protesters deliver letter to German Embassy

Protesting students last night submitted a letter to the German Embassy, to be passed on to the German Government. The protest started around 4pm when the rally gathered at the Sam Yan intersection, near the Chulalongkorn University, and made its way along Rama IV Road to the German Embassy in Sathorn Road, some 1.5 kilometres.

After some 10,000+ students descended on the Embassy compound in Sathorn Road, the German embassy said it would be “ready to receive the petition and convey it to Berlin on condition it was conveyed in a peaceful manner”.

The rally disbanded peacefully at around 9pm. Here are a few lines from the letter… the full contents are published on thethaiger.com

Addressed to His Excellency German Ambassador to Thailand.

During the last few days, we believe that Your Excellency have had the occasion to observe numerous alarming human rights violations in The Kingdom, including the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors and the suppression of free speech.

The protestors. at the receiving end of these egregious violations, were advocating for nothing more than democracy and accountability from the Government.

One of the most significant and courageous demands from the protestors is the accountability of the monarchy as an institution under the constitution.

In this regard, we are certain that Your Excellency is well aware of the open secret that H.M. does not habitually reside in Thailand, but rather in Bavaria, Germany. Khana Ratsadon International profoundly believes that this violates International custom, law, as well as Article I of the German Constitution.

We sincerely hope that Your Excellency would convey our grievances to the German Government.

Yesterday’s Germany’s Foreign Minister responded directly to the situation out side the German Embassy in the German parliament….

“Of course we are following developments taking place in Thailand, and know there are demonstrations and people taking to the streets for their rights. And, of course, I am also watching what the Thai King gets up to in Germany.”

Earlier yesterday a group of some 500 supporters of the government and royalists dressed in yellow shirts also demonstrated outside the gates of the German Embassy voicing their support for His Majesty and a continuation of the current system.

Both rallies outside German Embassy broke the law – deputy police chief

Meanwhile both of the rallies outside the German Embassy in Bangkok – the royalists and government supporters earlier yesterday afternoon and the pro-democracy protesters in the evening – have been deemed illegal by Thai police.

Deputy Metropolitan Police Chief says both rallies held outside the embassy on Sathorn Road did not have the permit required to hold a gathering and demonstrators violated Covid-19 prevention measures under the emergency order (presumably the Covid 19 emergency decree as the State of Emergency was rescinded last Thursday by the Thai PM).

Around 500 royalists got to the embassy first in the afternoon to show support for the Thai Monarch. Most were dressed in yellow, the colour representing the Thai Monarchy, and many waved the Thai flag and held up photos of the Royal family.

6 face extortion charges after allegedly posing Thai immigration police officers

Police have arrested 3 people and issued arrest warrants for 3 others on extortion charges after they allegedly posed immigration police officers in Rayong and visited business owners with migrant staff, asking them for money.

Police say 6 men wearing immigration police uniforms visited business owners in Rayong on September 15. They allegedly asked for money from the businesses with migrant labourers.

Investigators where able to track down 3 of the suspects and found the immigration police uniforms they allegedly used.

145 more on Special Tourist Visa arrive in Bangkok

145 people on the new Special Tourist Visa arrived in Bangkok yesterday from Guangzhou, China, the second group after Thailand’s 7 month ban on international tourists.

39 people on the new long stay visa arrived last week, a small, yet significant step forward for Thailand as it pries open the borders for tourists, albeit with a lot of paperwork, restrictions AND the 14 day quarantine.

In 2019, nearly 40 million tourists visited Thailand.

3 Chinese casino workers arrested with 8 million baht after illegal crossing from Myanmar

Officers from the Thai police and military have arrested 3 Chinese nationals after they crossed illegally into Thailand from the Burmese town of Myawaddy.

The 2 women and 1 man were workers at a casino in Myanmar and were arrested in possession of 8 million baht in Mae Sot, Northern Thailand. Officers detained them as they were getting into 2 cars allegedly arranged for them by 2 Thai men .

Thanathorn, other former Future Forward Party officials, are facing criminal charges

16 people from the dissolved Future Forward Party, including the former leader Thanathorn , could face criminal charges pressed by the Election Commission.

The charges are over a large donation that allegedly exceeds the maximum allowed under the Political Parties Act. The timing of the politically-charged legal action coincides with a peak of anti-government protest activity.

The 191 million baht loan, which exceeds the limit of 10 million baht per donor per year, led the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party back in February. The Court also ordered the party’s executive MPs be stripped of their parliamentary status and banned from politics for 10 years.

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Visa

Don’t forget to extend your visa! Thai Immigration warns about fines for late applicants

Caitlin Ashworth

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Don’t forget to extend your visa! Thai Immigration warns about fines for late applicants | The Thaiger

Still need to extend your visa? You have until Halloween, October 31. With the visa amnesty deadline approaching, Thai Immigration Bureau is reminding foreigners to get their visa in order by the end of this month. Late applicants will be fined, they say.

No matter when the visa is extended, as long as it’s before the deadline, it will go into effect on November 1 and allow a 60 day stay. The immigration bureau says foreigners should file an application with their local immigration office.

Since the recent amnesty period was put in place a few days after the initial September 26 deadline, those who paid 1,900 baht for 30 day visa extensions last month are now allowed to stay until November 30, but they need to go to immigration to get a stamp with the new expiration date.

The amnesty was first put in place in April due to travel restrictions and the global spread of the coronavirus. The grace period was set to end in July, then extended to late-September, and then extended again after many were unable to leave the country or get their visa in order before the deadline.

SOURCE: Thai Immigration

Don't forget to extend your visa! Thai Immigration warns about fines for late applicants | News by The Thaiger

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

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Thailand

145 more on Special Tourist Visa arrive in Bangkok

Caitlin Ashworth

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145 more on Special Tourist Visa arrive in Bangkok | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

145 people on the new Special Tourist Visa arrived in Bangkok yesterday from Guangzhou, China, the second group after Thailand’s 7 month ban on international tourists. 39 people on the new long stay visa arrived last week, a small, yet significant step forward for Thailand as it pries open the borders for tourists, albeit with a lot of paperwork, restrictions AND the 14 day quarantine.

The country went from welcoming millions of tourists each month before the pandemic to zero from late-March until a few weeks ago. In 2019, nearly 40 million tourists visited Thailand.

All the tourists passed the Covid-19 screening upon arrival at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. They are now required to go through a 14 day quarantine at an approved hotel or facility before travelling the country.

The tourists were on the same China Southern Airlines flight as 118 foreigners with Thai work permits who were entering Thailand for business purposes, according to the airport’s deputy director Kittipong Kittikachon. 16 Thais were also on the flight, travelling back home from China.

While some have been concerned that opening the borders to foreign tourists could cause another outbreak (even though the tourists are also required to quarantine), Kittipong says there is “no chance” that the coronavirus will spread from the tourists. He says strict health measures are in place and the tourists are coming from areas that are considered a “very low risk” with no recent local transmissions of the virus.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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