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Court declines to move on Van Treeck extradition

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PATTAYA: Despite widespread media reports that murder suspect Sam Van Treeck is back in his native Belgium, the Pattaya Provincial Court has ruled that it will not follow up on the issue or seek his extradition unless he fails to turn up at a scheduled court appearance in December.

Van Treeck was 24 years old when he was arrested for the brutal stabbing murder of Phuket-based dive instructor Chompoonut Jeab Kobram in October last year. K. Jeab was found dead in Van Treeck’s apartment in Pattaya. She had been stabbed 48 times.

Van Treeck has consistently denied the charge, claiming that K. Jeab was already dead when he arrived back home after going out to drink beer.

The Belgian was initially set free after posting police bail, and was later granted bail by the Pattaya Court on the day of his arraignment, September 20. He posted bail the following day using what Yongyuth Srikrit, a lawyer for K. Jeab’s family, described as a “rented” chanote land title deed valued at about 1 million baht.

The Belgian Consul in Bangkok, Hilde Van Inthoudt, later confirmed that Van Treeck arrived in Belgium in October, surrendering to the Belgian Police.

Van Treeck talked with journalists in Belgium about his reasons for fleeing, though he has carefully avoided saying how he got out of the country. The terms of his release on bail stipulated that he was not allowed to leave Thailand.

Wiroj Tulaphan, Chief of Pattaya Provincial Court, told the Gazette that he was confident that Van Treeck would return to Thailand for his court appearance in December, and said that the Court was too busy to act on reports of suspects skipping bail unless they came through official channels.

“There are many news reports about foreign defendants fleeing [the country] after we grant them bail. We can’t follow all of these reports all the time,” he said.

“We won’t investigate or contact the Belgian government. We will wait until the scheduled court appearance. If he doesn’t appear, then we will know he has fled,” he said, adding that this was normal Court procedure.

“In the period before the court appearance we don’t care where a defendant is, as long as he is aware that he is prohibited from leaving Thailand,” he said, adding that if Van Treeck fails to turn up for his hearing, the next step would be to contact his guarantor to try and locate him.

‘If the guarantor doesn’t tell the truth, or refuses to disclose his whereabouts, we will have to keep the bail money. Only after that can we issue a warrant for his arrest, after which time the public prosecutor can file a case to begin extradition proceedings,” he said.

Public Prosecutor Porames Indharachumnum, head of the of the Pattaya Provincial State Attorney’s Office, told the Gazette that the Pattaya Court had already rejected a written request by his office to investigate the possiblity that Van Treeck had broken the terms of his bail release by fleeing to Belgium.

“When the newspapers published this news [about Sam Van Treeck’s arrival in Belgium], we immediately contacted the court, asking it to contact Mr Van Treeck’s guarantor.

“But the court told us to wait until the scheduled court appearance in December, 2005, to see if Mr Van Treeck would appear before the court.

“Actually, the defendant is not allowed to leave Thailand, and we don’t know how he did that. But there is no [official] confirmation [that he is out of Thailand], and that is the problem. If the court doesn’t rule that he has fled, we can’t begin the [extradition] process. The court believes he will come back for his court appearance,” he said.

K. Pomares added that his office had also requested that the court order the defendent to appear before December, in order to ensure that he was still in Thailand.

The court rejected this request, too, and instead asked the guarantor about the whereabouts of Van Treeck. The guarantor replied that he didn’t know, but assured the court that Van Treeck would be present for the December hearing, K. Pomares said.

“I don’t know if he will come to the court appearance or not, but if he doesn’t the court will seize the million baht posted as bail,” he added.

K. Pomares explained that if Van Treeck fails to appear and the Court issues a warrant for his arrest, that warrant would be passed on to the Belgian Foreign Affairs Ministry by the Attorney General’s Office.

“However, at that time it will be up to the Belgian government to decide whether to extradite him to Thailand, because if he is found guilty he could be sentenced to death under Thai law,” he said, referring to the fact that the Belgian Government generally does not agree to extradition requests in such cases.

Jaroen Cooreman, a counselor with the Belgian Embassy, told the Gazette today, “We are still waiting for an official [extradition] request from the Thai authorities, but thus far we have not received any.

Until we receive one, there is nothing we can do. I don’t know at this moment exactly where [Van Treeck] is. But at the moment he left Thailand, he went to Belgium and to the Belgian Police. So I assume that he’s in Belgium.”

Asked about the possibility of the Belgian Government complying with an extradition request, Mr Cooreman was non-commital, saying only that Brussels would consider what to do after receiving such a request.

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Thailand News Today | Protesters face arrest | Phuket “in a coma”| September 22

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Protesters face arrest | Phuket “in a coma”| September 22 | The Thaiger

Thailand News Today with Tim Newton. Daily news from around Thailand.

Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut

Airlines in Thailand are being offered a financial lifeline, as the Government Savings Bank announces soft loans for carriers left struggling as a result of the current Covid-19 ‘disruption’.

The GSB is offering the loans over a 60 month period, with an annual interest rate of 2%. The bank’s chairman says the proposal will be put to Cabinet for approval.

Airlines have been left financially devastated by the fallout from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with countries closing their borders, passenger numbers plummeting, and carriers forced to slash the number of flights on offer. The services available, including the food services, were also curtailed early on as a preventative measure but that restriction has since been lifted.

In a further effort to ease the financial crisis faced by Thai airlines, the Excise Department says it will extend the fuel tax cut for low-cost carriers by another 6 months from the end of this month.

Protest leaders face charges for violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law and for installing the plaque

Leaders of the weekend’s pro-democracy protest in Bangkok are facing charges for violating Thailand’s lèse majesté laws and for installing a symbolic plaque at a “registered historical site”. Police filed complaints to between 10 to 16 protesters.

It’s unclear how many protesters will be charged, but a Royal Thai Police spokesperson says charges will be pressed against those who “pulled the strings.” Under Thailand’s lèse majesté law, it is illegal to insult or defame the Thai Monarch or royal family. Police say they will take the strongest legal actions possible against those who undermined the Monarchy, although earlier this year the Thai PM said that His Majesty had requested that such charges not be brought against Thai citizens.

Charges are also being brought against the protesters who installed a commemorative plaque in the forecourt of Sanam Luang, next to the Grand Palace. The Fine Arts Department and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration have filed complaints with police over the installation of the plaque, saying the protesters broke the law by causing damage to an archaeological site.

Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy

The governor of Phuket has likened the southern province to a “patient in a coma”, as he pleads for help to restore its devastated economy. The governor highlighted the economic crisis caused by the ongoing ban on international tourists. The island’s international airport closed in April, cutting off the supply of international tourists, and cutting off the flow of international money coming into the island’s tourist economy.

The latest figures show that Phuket has lost over 400 billion baht since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The island’s economy is, either directly or indirectly, 90% reliant on a steady flow of international tourists, and has seen a massive tourist infrastructure boom over the past 20 years.

Governor Narong predicts the province will face similar hardship next year, and is calling on the government to organise conferences and other events that could attract more visitors to the province.

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader

Meanwhile, the owner of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort is facing a social media storm after condemning the current pro-democracy movement and one of its main organisers. Taking to Instagram, Vorasit Issara, owner of the five-star Sri Panwa Phuket Resort, singles out the female protest leader saying “she should be in prison”.

“This bullshit has got to stop. She is not Thai. Who is she working for?

Sharing a photo of Panusaya, he adds, “arrest this child.” Vorasit incorrectly asserted that Panusaya wasn’t Thai. In fact she was born in 1998 in Nonthaburi and IS a Thai citizen.

His post has since gone viral, prompting outrage from those who support the anti-government movement. A hashtag calling for a boycott of his Sri Panwa Phuket resort has taken off on Twitter, at a time when almost all hotels are battling for survival, especially on Phuket.

Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border

Myanmar is currently suffering a wave of Covid-19, causing concern in Thailand as its western border authorities bump up security measures and patrols.

Burmese authorities have been introducing increasingly draconian restrictions to control the sudden spread of the virus over the past 4 weeks. Whilst the case load is still relatively small, the concerns are focussing on the porous western borders of Myanmar onto adjacent Bangladesh and India, as well as the spike in cases in the largest city Yangon.

Yangon is now under a very tight lockdown as the city is quickly turning into the country’s hotspot of Covid-19.

There were 610 and 6 new deaths in the past 24 hours. Yesterday 671 new cases of Covid-10 were reported

Indonesia’s economy shrinks for the first time in 22 years

Indonesia’s economy will contract for the first time since the Asian financial crisis in 1997/1998.

Gross domestic product is forecast to decline over 1% this year according to the country’s Finance Minister. He said…

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic as the number of new cases each day continues to set records. The worsening outbreak prompted the renewal of social-distancing curbs in Jakarta, measures that had battered growth in the second quarter this year.

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Tourism

Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy

Maya Taylor

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Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy | The Thaiger
Shuttered businesses along Bangla Road in Patong yesterday

The governor of Phuket has likened the southern province to a “patient in a coma”, as he pleads for help to restore its devastated economy. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew was addressing a Public Health Association forum, where he highlighted the economic crisis caused by the ongoing ban on international tourists. The island’s international airport closed in April, shutting off the supply of international tourists, and cutting off the flow of international money flowing into the island’s tourist economy.

The latest figures show that Phuket has lost over 400 billion baht since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The island’s economy is, either directly or indirectly, 90% reliant on a steady flow of international tourists, and has seen a massive tourist infrastructure boom over the past 20 years, including accommodation, tours, tour boats, tours buses and passenger vans, international shows, new roads, restaurants and rentals – all aimed at the many levels of traveller budgets.

Governor Narong predicts the province will face similar hardship next year, and is calling on the government to organise conferences and other events that will attract more visitors to the province.

“So far, the province has invited 15,000 village health volunteers in the south to travel and spend time in the province while today’s seminar is bringing in 10,000 attendees and followers and will relieve some of the hardship.”

Meanwhile, PHA president Prapat Thamwongsa, says the forum gives those attending the opportunity to share knowledge and advice on tackling the spread of disease, with presentations and competitions addressing all public health activities.

Phuket usually receives around 14 million visitors every year, with around 10-11 million arriving from outside Thailand. The airport usually welcomes up to 300 international flights a day but is now only receiving around 80 flights a day, since the ban on foreign flights started in April. Narong says an estimated 40,000 of the island’s workers are now unemployed, while those still employed have taken hefty pay cuts of anything from 20% to a hefty 90%. Less than 30% of the province’s hotels are currently open.

“Phuket is like a patient in a coma in ICU. So, it is necessary for all stakeholders to help restore Phuket as quickly as possible.”

The Cabinet recently approved a long-stay visa (the Special Tourist Visa) for tourists who wish to visit the Kingdom, although critics say the strict requirements, coupled with the extortionate cost of the mandatory 14 day quarantine, make it unworkable. The new visa is also insisting that travellers will have to arrive on restricted charter or private jet flights, adding further cost and restrictions.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader

Maya Taylor

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Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The owner of a luxury resort on the Thai island of Phuket is facing a social media storm after condemning the current pro-democracy movement and one of its main organisers. Taking to Instagram, Vorasit Issara, owner of the five-star Sri Panwa Phuket Resort, singles out protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul for his disapproval, saying “she should be in prison”.

“This bullshit has got to stop. She is not Thai. Who is she working for? This one needs to be in prison”.

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | News by The Thaiger

Sharing a photo of Panusaya, he adds, “arrest this child.” Vorasit incorrectly asserted that Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul isn’t Thai. In fact she was born in 1998 in Nonthaburi and IS a Thai citizen.

His post has since gone viral, prompting outrage from those who support the anti-government movement. A hashtag calling for a boycott of his Sri Panwa Phuket resort has taken off on Twitter, at a time when almost all hotels are battling for survival, especially on Phuket. The hashtag #แบนศรีพันวา (Ban Sri Panwa) is trending on top on Twitter.

Digging up the 38 year old’s past indicates hissupport of Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the coup that brought him to power in 2014. Speaking to Coconuts Bangkok, Vorasit denied being “out-of-touch” and “elite” and said he’s unconcerned about the boycott call.

“If you don’t love (the political) establishment, you better not come to my resort. Don’t be my guest,” he said in the Coconuts story.

Others are now using Google reviews to attack the property, accusing Vorasit of supporting a dictatorship.

The anti-government rally held in Bangkok, at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus and the Sanam Luang royal parade grounds over the weekend, drew up to 30,000 people in Bangkok’s drizzly wet-season weather. Panusaya was one of the protesters who organised the event and was the first, in July, to read out a 10 point manifesto that, for the first time, openly mentioned the reform of the Thai monarchy.

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | News by The Thaiger

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | News by The Thaiger

Vorasit’s comments come as the newly-crowned Miss Grand Thailand also faces a backlash, after speaking up in support of anti-government protesters. Pacharaporn Chantarapadit has been hit with racist insults on social media after condemning the current administration and saying she stands with the protesters.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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