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Mother of slain German gets help from Thai tourism industry

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Mother of slain German gets help from Thai tourism industry | The Thaiger

KOH SAMUI: More than two years after the murder of Düsseldorf man Volker Schwartges, his alleged killers are finally set to appear in court, after official letters of complaint from Germany have put pressure on Thailand’s government.

The 46-year-old Mr Schwartges was attacked by at least four young Samui locals at about 6am on August 20, 2014. Mr Schwartges was kicked and beaten with bottles, and bled to death in the parking lot behind a music venue in Chaweng after his throat was slit with a knife.

While the venue has since been closed by the police and the army, for two years there was little word about the case progressing in Thai courts, although ‘Der Farang‘ newspaper reported several times on “paralyzed police and judicial processing” holding up the prosecution of the killers.

Although the Royal Thai Embassy in Berlin had responded to an inquest two years ago, according to the ‘Düsseldorfer Express‘ newspaper, and the investigations had been forwarded to the public prosecutor’s office in Koh Samui in November 2014, the case never made it to court. The perpetrators, including the main suspect, a 17-year-old, did not spend any time behind bars.

In her distress and frustration, Mr Schwartges’ 71-year-old mother Gisela wrote letters in German, Thai and English and sent them to the highest authorities and ministries in Thailand and Germany. On October 13 this year, Ms Schwartges received a letter from Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism stating that the trial of her son’s murder will begin on November 11, in a Koh Samui provincial court.

The prosecutor’s office in Koh Samui confirmed only the case’s file number, stating that they did not want to comment on the content of the prosecution’s case, or on the reason for the delay in getting the case to trial. A clerk hinted that the delay may have been caused by “the place that wrote the letter to the mother.”

A letter, purporting to be from the Tourist Assistance Center of the Thai Tourism Ministry, to Ms Schwartges stated that her son’s case had ‘already been tried’ and the accused punished on June 15 in a Koh Samui provincial court. Since the murder victim was a German citizen, the German Embassy in Bangkok or the German Foreign Office ought to have been informed of the outcome of that ‘trial, but neither institution had received such notification.

Experts on Thailand’s judiciary system said that the opening of a murder trial more than two years after a murder was “highly unusual”.

Ms Schwartges and her friends in Düsseldorf say they are now eagerly awaiting November 11, and the appearance in court of her son’s alleged killer, who has reportedly been seen on several occasions after the bloody slaying now more than two years ago. He has reportedly been seen regularly around the disco behind which Mr Schwartges was murdered.

— Sam Gruber

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Tourism

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

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Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO | The Thaiger

There was the original Covid-19 outbreak and lockdowns back in April and May in 2020, then again just before Christmas and New Year when the new clusters emerged in Samut Sakhon and the eastern coastal provinces, Patong’s nightlife was quiet enough, almost non-existent.

Now when the restrictions are lifted, Nimz will take you through Phuket’s famous nightlife spot Bangla Road, Patong Beach and Phuket Town. It’s quiet, but there are still clubs open and operating and ready to welcome you.

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Expats

Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up

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Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up | The Thaiger

In a nightmarish scenario, a deceased Phuket expat’s body is stuck in a Thai hospital as his step‐daughter claims hospital administrators won’t release the body due to a passport mix‐up.

Gemma Swift, the step‐daughter of 75 year old David Donoghue, who died 2 weeks ago, says she is pleading with embassy staff in Thailand to resolve, what she says, is purely an administrative issue after Donoghue’s passport number at the hospital was from that of an expired one.

Donoghue’s current passport was on file with the British Embassy, but because it did not match what the hospital had, his body has remained at the hospital. Swift says it was something that could easily be corrected and the situation was “horrendous” for the family.

“The British Embassy over in Bangkok, they said that because [the number] was from his current passport, they were unable to change the letter. They have said that they won’t reissue a letter with the passport number that he’s got in the hospital with him.”

She said her family planned to arrange a funeral for him in Thailand, then bring his ashes back to the UK. As he retired to Phuket 15 years ago, her family would then take his ashes back to Thailand, as per his wishes, to scatter them.

However, none of his family members were able to travel to Thailand to be with Donoghue in his final days, as the mandatory 14 day quarantine period upon entering Thailand, would not have allowed them to see him.

“I thought this was a basic human right to be able to give somebody a funeral and I accept that there is always going to be red tape…but please just issue a letter and let us bring him home.”

She said before Covid-19, family members travelled often to Phuket to visit Donoghue, who once worked for the Thai tourist police. She says the entire ordeal has been heartbreaking as her family was unable to say goodbye.

“That on its own was heart breaking, and now to get this two weeks later, to find out we can’t give him a funeral, or get his ashes back, it’s just horrendous.”

“It’s like being on autopilot… once we know we have done everything we can, we can start the grieving process, but at the minute we can’t.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said they are assisting Donoghue’s family during the difficult time.

“Our staff are in contact with the local hospital and funeral director to help his family obtain the necessary paperwork to ensure his body is treated in line with their wishes.”

If the situation isn’t fixed, Donoghue’s body will join a mass cremation at the hospital.

SOURCE: BBC News

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

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Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | The Thaiger

In today’s Thailand News Today…. The island of Phuket has a firm plan to get its residents vaccinated leading up to an October opening for tourists, the Thai PM backs up his police over last Sunday’s protest violence and Thai Airway’s employee union criticises the changes to employee contracts.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Phuket has a resident population of around 300- 400,000 people.

Before you go rushing off to book your plane tickets we’d stress that this is another in a long list of proposals that have not come to fruition and we’d urge patience until the Government approves the plans.

Meanwhile the island has taken delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccinations started yesterday, with priority given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials exposed to Covid-19 patients.

On a broader note… Thailand’s Tourism Minister says he has asked the Public Health Ministry to approve a vaccine passport scheme aimed at reviving Thailand’s devastated tourism sector. According to the Minister, the government is looking to the World Health Organisation to issue a statement on vaccine passports before it makes a final decision on the matter.

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards. He says that police did not violate the protesters’ rights.

Thai researchers are claiming that horseshoe bats are not responsible for transmitting the Covid virus to humans. A researcher with the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases-Health Science Centre, says that even though the bats have tested positive for a coronavirus, it is not the strain that is transmissible to humans, and it’s certainly not the virus that causes Covid-19.

As Thai Airways tries to sell new contracts and conditions to its remaining workforce, the labour union of the national carrier is challenging changes to the employment contracts, where Thai Airways employees are being asked to agree to changes as part of the bigger financial rehabilitation program.

But a union representative says the new contracts are unfair because it includes fewer leave days and shorter holidays. The union has filed a complaint with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.

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