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Koh Tao Murders: Police turn focus to friends of slain man

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Koh Tao Murders: Police turn focus to friends of slain man
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police investigation into the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao last Sunday has shifted from migrant workers to friends of the male victim, while autopsy results have provided revealing information about the gruesome crimes.

Pol Lt-General Panya Mamen, commander of Police Region 8, said yesterday that British citizen Christopher Alan Ware, a travel companion of victim David William Miller, had cooperated in giving information to the police in an interview at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok. Samples of Ware’s DNA had also been collected since he was on Koh Tao.

Police are giving most weight to scientifically proven evidence from the autopsies, Panya added.

A police source, quoting an Institute of Forensic Medicine (IFM) scientist, Pol Major Kaywalee Janphan, said DNA-based identification of a single blond hair found in the hand of the other victim, Hannah Victoria Witheridge, was not possible, because the hair’s cell was not intact.

Police had interviewed six migrant workers and a number of Thais, he said. Three female friends of Witheridge had also been interviewed and were allow-ed to return to Britain.

Panya said an extra 150 members of the Tourist and Marine Police had been deployed on Koh Tao and at piers on the coast of neighbouring Chumphon province to heighten security and boost tourists’ confidence.

Deputy police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung said earlier that police had asked two friends of Miller to remain in Thailand for 48 hours pending analysis of DNA samples collected from the victims’ bodies.

Miller’s friends, whom Somyot did not identify, were at Suvarnabhumi Airport, about to leave Thailand. “We have asked the British Embassy in Thailand to ask for their cooperation in staying in Thailand while the investigation continues.”

Police on Tuesday night ruled out three Myanmar workers as suspects after interviewing them and searching their rooms. Panya was quoted as saying that the three men had been very far from the scene of the double murders, adding that DNA samples had been collected from them.

The post-mortem report on Miller’s body has revealed that his death resulted from blows to the head and drowning, Pol Colonel Dr Pornchai Sutheerakune, commander of the IFM, said yesterday.

Water was found in Miller’s lungs, his body showed traces of being dragged and there were wounds on the back of his hands, Pornchai said. The findings indicate that he fought with his attackers, was beaten and then drowned, the doctor said.

The autopsy on Witheridge, whose body was found near Miller’s, showed she also had trauma to the head. There were also traces of recent intercourse and semen was found on her body.

The doctors will use the semen to try and identify the culprit, comparing the DNA samples collected from the bodies with those from suspects.

The doctor said he could not tell what had been used to beat the victims, other than it was a blunt object. The time of death is not known because the bodies had been frozen before autopsy.

The bodies can be reclaimed by the victims’ families now that the autopsies have been completed.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn sent a condolence letter to his British counterpart Philip Hammond, saying he felt “profound regret and sadness” over the deaths.

“On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of Thailand, I would like to extend to you and, through you, our sincere condolences and sympathy to the bereaved families for their irreparable loss,” the note read.

He further said that he wished to reassure future travellers that the government gave priority to protecting foreign nationals visiting and residing in Thailand.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright

Caitlin Ashworth

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But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

A Thai producer says he came up with the superhero “Ultraman,” but he recently lost a battle with a Japanese special effects studio over the copyright. The Thailand Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the owner of the Thai Chaiyo Productions Company Limited who tried to claim copyright for the superhero films which date back to the 1960s.

Owner of the Thai production company, Sompo Saengduanchai, says the superhero comes from his imagination. He says he created Ultraman while on a fellowship in Japan studying film production. He claims he was involving the projects “Jumbo A”, “Ultraman 1 – Ultra Q,” “Ultraman 2,” “Ultraman Seven,” “Return of Ultraman,” “Ultraman Ace,” “Ultraman Taro,” “Jamborg Ace” and “Hanuman Meets Seven Superheroes.”

Chaiyo Productions Company Limited has been in a copyright war with the Japanese special effects studio Tsubaraya Productions Company Limited. The Appeals Court ruled in Tsubaraya’s favor, then Chaiyo appealed that decision. That appeal was just rejected by the Supreme Court Division for Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade.

The Japanese special effects studio is best known for the “Ultra” TV series. It was founded in 1963 by special effects producer Eiji Tsubaraya and the “Ultra” series first aired in 1966. His family ran the company until October 2007, when the family sold the company to advertising agency TYO Inc.

Sompo says he’s worried that the Supreme Court decision will have a negative affect on his movies. He says some are registered as national heritage cultural properties.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Politics

Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful

Maya Taylor

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Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

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” (given to him by Thai media) headed up Thailand’s Immigration Bureau until he was unceremoniously side-lined by the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha 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. His lawyer, Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, says other officers transferred to the PM’s Office have since been re-instated, after being cleared of any wrongdoing. He insists his client deserves the same, pointing out that in the 1 year and 5 months since his transfer, there has been no investigation against him.

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 former National Security Council chief, Thawil Pliensri, who was transferred under former PM Ying­luck Shinawatra in 2011. The transfer was subsequently deemed unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Bangkok Post reports that Wissanu doesn’t rule out the possibility of Surachate being re-instated, saying the PM’s Office should submit the issue for the PM’s consideration. For his part, Surachate claims his petitions to the PM have fallen on deaf ears.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

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

Caitlin Ashworth

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New army chief declares he’ll protect Thailand’s monarchy and restore peace | The Thaiger
PHOTO: naewna

At a time of mass pro-democracy protests, with some activists facing charges for criticising the role of the Thai head of state, the 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 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). A number of protest leaders face charges relating to their actions at protests, like breaking the emergency decree back in July for holding a large public gathering, as well as violating the lèse majesté law for criticising or insulting Thailand’s King or members of the royal family.

“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.”

Narongphan praised the more than 250 retiring generals, including the outgoing army chief, saying they all dedicated their time to protect Thailand and maintain law and order.

“We faithfully pledge to carry on your ideologies and perform our duties to the best of our ability, to ensure peace in society, foster national unity and support the country’s development.”

The retiring defence forces chief Pornpipat Benyasri said he was proud for his service in the armed forces and will continue to defend the country’s sovereignty, people and the Monarchy after his service has ended.

“We won’t hesitate to sacrifice our time whenever we are needed.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post

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