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Immigration to deport men after alleged eco-vandalism in Koh Phangan

Immigration officials say they will deport the Hungarian and the Dutch man who were photographed handing sea creatures whilst diving in Gulf of Thailand off Koh Phangan. The men were arrested earlier this week and charged with “intruding in an area designated for environmental protection.”

Attila Ott and Francesco Simonetti have been so-called “long-stayers” in Koh Phangan. Ott is a diving instructor and owner of Pink Panther Scuba Dive Club and Simonetti is a chef at Il Barracuda Restaurant & BBQ. Police say the men were diving in an environmental protection zone off of the island’s Salad Beach. Photos from their dive show the men picking up marine life and even “tickling” the sea creatures.

Deputy Director of the Royal Thai Army Pakpong Saibol confirmed the men will have their visa revoked and will be deported. He says it’s an “expensive lesson.” Under Thailand’s Immigration Act, those who cause harm or damage can be deported, Pakpong notes. A Surat Thani Immigration officer says the men offended many Thai people in the province and encourages locals to call the bureau’s hotline if they see anyone harming marine life or breaking other laws.

Photos of the men handling the sea creatures were widely shared on social media. Some say the men should get deported for disturbing wildlife. Others say the marine animals are not endangered and the men should just pay a fine instead. Since the men were long time residents in Thailand, and 1 of them is reportedly married, they should face punishments in the country rather than be kicked out.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

View Comments

  • They will probably be happy to go if the Thais paid the fares.
    I would guess they have had enough of this persecution, simply because they are foreigners and likely to cough up big bucks.
    If Thais had done this terrible crime they would not even been arrested.
    And now it appears these marine animals are not even endangered.
    Could it be that the Thais that objected were in businesses in competition to the Pink Panther diving club . . .

    • I very much agree with what you are saying, if a thai person posted this nothing would have happend , the thai police just wants to show power for the sake of showing off

  • Seems Thai officials want to reclaim their country. Maybe the presence of bold and arrogant foreigners for too many years forgetting they're guests.

  • Good decision. These characters should have thought before taking these selfies and posting online.

  • a fine and a severe warning fits the punishment, it was a photo shot and wasnt endangering marine life, l hope they they reconsider, as the guy supports local business and local workers

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