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Justice slow to arrive in Phuket child rape cases

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Justice slow to arrive in Phuket child rape cases | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Not one of the four men charged with child rape in Phuket over the past 16 months has been acquitted or found guilty of the heinous crime.

One suspect, a Laotian accused of repeatedly raping his handicapped stepdaughter, fled the country and has not been captured.

Of the three men arrested, two are still waiting for their trials to begin. The third, a Mai Khao shopkeeper accused of the rape of a child in October 2012, is free on bail as he awaits the conclusion of his trial, scheduled for April.

The Gazette has declined to name any of the individuals, to protect the victims, who were between the ages of 5 and 15 when the alleged rapes occurred.

In the case of the Mai Khao shopkeeper, the court has heard testimony from the girl, her mother and case investigators, and will hear from her father on April 3, said Phuket Public Prosecutor Atikun Puangprom.

“The following day the judge will hear defense testimony, and then he will hand down his verdict,” Mr Atikun said.

The alleged rape took place when the girl’s mother, who owned a small shop, ran out of items and sent her daughter to buy them from a store nearby.

A neighbor who entered that store reported seeing the shopkeeper emerge from a back room zipping up his trousers, followed by the 9-year-old girl, who was pulling up her shorts (story here).

When questioned by her mother, the girl said she’d been raped, at which point she was taken immediately to Tah Chat Chai Police Station and then to Thalang Hospital for an examination.

“The result of the medical examination was that she had been raped,” the mother said.

The shopkeeper denied the charges, but according to the mother offered her money “not to make a big deal of it”.

Eight days later, dissatisfied with police progress, the mother filed a complaint against the police for inaction (story here).

The two subsequent cases reported by the Gazette both involved stepfathers charged with repeatedly raping their stepdaughters.

The first came to light in June last year, when a Thai woman married to a Lao national told Patong Police that her husband had confessed to repeatedly raping her 15-year-old daughter who was handicapped by polio.

The woman kicked the man out of the house and went to police seeking his arrest (story here).

The girl was found to be five months’ pregnant and doctors recommended that for the sake of her health the pregnancy be terminated. The stepfather, meanwhile, fled the country.

Although police were initially confident the man would return to Thailand “because he doesn’t know that his wife reported him to the police, and he has two children here with her,” according to Patong Police Officer Teerasak Boonsaeng (story here), the Gazette learned last week that he has not been apprehended.

“We sent the arrest warrant to international police via immigration officials months ago, but the suspect has not been found,” said Patong Police Superintendent Chiraphat Pochanaphan.

“However, we will check the progress with the investigation team again and keep following this case.”

The following month, a woman in Thalang returned home from work early to see her daughter running our of her stepfather’s bedroom. When confronted by her mother, the 13-year-old girl said her stepfather had been raping her for years.

The man, a construction worker, admitted to police that he had repeatedly raped the girl over the previous eight years.

That man is in Phuket Prison. No trial date has been set, a prison official told the Gazette.

The most recent case, involving a 10-year-old girl who lives in Phuket Town, took place in November and has yet to be sent from the police to the prosecutor (story here).

In that case, a 24-year-old man asked permission to take a neighbor’s child to buy snacks in nearby Rassada.

When the pair returned home an hour later, the girl told her parents she had been raped, and doctors who examined the girl said they found clear signs of rape on her body.

The girl’s parents went to confront the man, but he had fled. Police found him later that month hiding at a deserted Karon resort and arrested him.

The man, who denied the charges, is being detained at Phuket Prison, Phuket City Police Deputy Superintendent Sien Kaewthong told the Gazette on January 6.

“The case is still under investigation,” Col Sien says.

“The suspect continues to deny the charge, so we have to question more eyewitness in order to get information that will make him confess. We will hand over the case to the prosecutor as soon as possible, but we can’t say when that will be.

“We are also waiting for the rape test results from Vachira Phuket Hospital. We have no idea when they will be released.”

The punishment for sex with a minor under 15 years of age is four to 20 years in prison, a fine of 8,000 to 40,000 baht, or both.

— Irfarn Jamdukor

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

Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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