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Koh Tao Murders: Village chief’s son volunteers DNA samples

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Koh Tao Murders: Village chief’s son volunteers DNA samples
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Medical teams from four institutes yesterday joined the process to conduct DNA tests on a 22-year-old man whom many Thai social-media users alleged is a suspect in the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao.

Warot Tuwichien yesterday showed up at the National Police Office (NPO) to allow the teams to collect his DNA samples in front of the media.

The murders of the two Britons on Koh Tao, a tourist island off Surat Thani province, in mid-September has made headlines both locally and internationally. The investigation into the murders has received huge media coverage and close attention from the public, including social-media users.

National Police Commissioner Somyot Poompanmoung yesterday said he had invited medical teams from the Police General Hospital’s Institute of Forensic Medicine, Chulalongkorn Hospital, Siriraj Hospital and Ramathibodi Hospital to conduct the DNA tests on Warot so as to boost public confidence in the police handling of the case.

“The results from the DNA tests will come out within the next one or two days,” he told a press conference.

Somyot lamented that misleading information on social networks had adversely affected Thai society, its image and the country’s tourism industry.

Word spread on social media that Warot – son of a headman on Koh Tao – should be treated as a person of interest in the killings of the Britons, despite police ruling him out as a suspect.

Warot’s father Woraphan Tuwichien is the village head of Moo 1 of Tambon Koh Tao and the owner of a bar on the island.

Police arranged for the DNA test on Warot but have made clear that the results will not be part of their official investigation report on the murder case. Somyot said the report had already reached public prosecutors and police could not add anything to it unless instructed by the prosecutors.

“Police initially did not interrogate or require Warot to undergo DNA testing because he offered proof he was not on Koh Tao at the time the crimes took place,” Somyot explained.

The DNA tests are being conducted in public to clear up any lingering doubts, after two Myanmar workers arrested for the crimes said they were tortured into confessing.

Both Myanmar and Britain have sent officials to observe the case, because of their citizens’ involvement.

Somyot warned social-media users to think twice before making claims about the case on the Internet.

“This sharing can affect the society. It can cause social division and hurt Thailand’s and Koh Tao’s tourism economy,” he said, adding that sharing false information on the Internet was an offence under the Computer Crimes Act.

“It’s punishable by up to five years in jail, a maximum fine of Bt100,000, or both,” he said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Woraphan said he was consulting lawyers as to whether to sue Internet users who had defamed his son and his family.

“I have been monitoring social media outlets,” he said. He said he brought his son to be DNA tested with the aim of proving Warot’s innocence.

Warot, meanwhile, said he did not understand why so many people would believe in stories shared by strangers on the Internet.

Dr Smith Srisonthi of Ramathibodi Hospital said his team collected DNA samples from both Warot’s cheek and blood.

“We will compare his DNA samples with the samples found on the victims as well as those found around the crime scenes,” Smith said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
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The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

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Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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Protests

MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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