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Koh Tao Murders: Taxi driver accuses police of intimidation, bribe for false testimony

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Koh Tao Murders: Taxi driver accuses police of intimidation, bribe for false testimony | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Police promised cash reward to buy false testimony: taxi driver
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A taxi driver on Koh Tao, off the Surat Thani coast, yesterday went public with his accusation that police investigating the murders of two British tourists had tried to intimidate him into providing false testimony.

In a media interview yesterday, Prasit Sukdam also accused the police of giving him a large sum of money in exchange for false testimony to frame the wrong people. He claimed the money was taken from the Bt700,000 offered as a reward by Koh Tao residents for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

Separately, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dismissed reports that tourists will be encouraged to wear wristbands or register electronically upon arrival in addition to passport verification at the airport. “We can’t make them wear any chip-embedded device. We want them to keep visiting Thailand,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prasit brought the issue up with Assawin sae-Phoo, head of local taxi drivers on the tourist island, citing “fear for his life after turning down the offer”. Assawin later took Prasit’s complaint to Korbchai Saowalak, the kamnan of tambon Koh Tao.

Korbchai then spoke publicly to the police, calling on them to not work on the case in an aggressive manner and not find scapegoats. “Don’t harm innocent people or frighten them,” he said.

Speaking later to reporters, Prasit said: “I don’t want to take any action against the policemen, but want to demonstrate my innocence and I will cooperate with other requests in the future. Just don’t force me to acknowledge [something] I never knew [about],” he said.

Prasit admitted to celebrating with a football team after a match at an unnamed pub on the night of the murders, but said he knew nothing about the team members’ activities or police suspicions about them.

He said some policemen approached him at 1.30pm on Monday trying to convince him to cooperate and let him go five hours later.

Meanwhile, assistant national police chief Lt-General Jakthip Chaijinda has been instructed to supervise the investigation, taking over from Police Region 8 commander Lt-General Panya Manen who has been promoted to assistant national police chief. Officials said different police units should work together on the probe.

The Police Region 8 chief’s post has been filled by Lt-General Decha Butrnamphet, who said later that the same set of investigators would continue working on the case.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Expats

Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple

May Taylor

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Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple | The Thaiger

The “OSS Foreigner” app is coming, and you will be able to use it for 90 day reporting, according to the Secretary-General at the office of the PM.

Dr Kobsak Pootrakool says the planned app can be used for all immigration reporting, including 90 day reports, adding that typing in the required data and uploading a selfie will accomplish the same result as filling out paperwork at the local immigration office but without having to make the trip there.

Dr Kobsak has been given responsibility for sorting out the TM30 debate and says the immigration app, called OSS Foreigner, is nearly complete and should make all those who live and work in Thailand feel more welcome and make compliance easier and more convenient.

The TM30 form, and its companion, the TM28, have been a source of expat displeasure over the past five months since the immigration department decided to enforce a little-used 1979 law that required foreigners to report their whereabouts if they had stayed overnight at an address different from their registered address.

This latest move comes as part of a wider program to make Thai public services more efficient, with Dr Kobsak making the announcement while outlining plans for all Thai government departments to embrace digital technology by as early as 2022. Meanwhile, the Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak is championing a programme to improve Thai public services for both Thai citizens and foreigners.

“The government’s new approach to IT and digital technology is designed to deliver a smarter, easier service as part of the Thailand 4.0 economic model.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Crime

Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued

May Taylor

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Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued | The Thaiger

The Nation reports that 3 underage sex workers have been rescued after raids on a karaoke restaurant and a karaoke massage parlour in Ang Thong, central Thailand.

The raids were confirmed at a press conference held by Ronnarong Thipsiri, Head of the Department of Provincial Administration’s investigation and suppression division, along with Sakda Bandasak, sheriff of Ang Thong’s Muang district. Ronnarong alleges both premises were using the underage girls as prostitutes.

“We collaborated with Damrong Dhama Centre and anti-human trafficking organisations and learnt that two karaoke joints in Ang Thong were employing underage sex workers. These were the Chil Chil Karaoke on Highway No. 3064, Pa Ngiew sub district of Muang district, and Jittra Karaoke on the ground floor of a hotel in Muang district.”

During the raids, police identified 6 sex workers offering services to a group of customers. Four of the girls were Thai and two were from Laos. Three were under the age of 18, with the youngest being 15 years old. A large number of used condoms were also found.

Somjit Phetwijit and Aphirom Pheungpracha, the owners of Chil Chil Karaoke and Jittra Karaoke respectively were arrested and charged with human trafficking, solicitation of prostitution, prostitution of an underage person, and opening an entertainment facility without a licence.

A 17 year old girl from Jittra Karaoke told the press she was hired to sit and drink with clients and was paid 50 baht each time a client ordered a drink.

“Clients can buy sex for 1,500 baht a time or pay 3,500 baht for a whole night. They can either use massage rooms in the back or bring the girls to other hotels of their choice.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Business

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain

May Taylor

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Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain | The Thaiger

(…or is that a 90% ‘steak’?)

PHOTOS: Wongnai

DealStreetAsia, an investor news site reporting on Asian business, confirms that Singha Corporation has purchased a majority stake in the Thai restaurant chain, Santa Fe. It’s understood that Singha purchased the shares held by Lakeshore Capital for approximately US$50 million or 1.53 billion baht, giving it a 90% stake in the chain seen in most Thai shopping centres.

The Nation reports that Singha will now oversee over 110 restaurants across Thailand in one of the country’s biggest food industry deals of the year. The company first turned its attention to the food industry two years ago, launching Food Factors Company under the Boon Rawd Brewery group.

WongnaiFood Factors aims to make 5 billion baht over 3 years under the stewardship of Piti Bhirombhakdi. The company has an ambitious long-term target of 10 billion baht a year, along with plans to be listed on the stock exchange.

The Santa Fe chain was established in 2003 by Surachai Charn-Anudet’s KT Restaurant Company, with the aim of becoming a major competitor to Sizzler, the American chain brought to Thailand by Minor Food.

SOURCE: The Nation

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand's Santa Fe restaurant chain | News by The Thaiger

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