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Phuket Special Report: One fateful night at the Longhorn Saloon

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Special Report: One fateful night at the Longhorn Saloon | The Thaiger
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SPECIAL REPORT

POLICE promptly arrested three Thai musicians for the stabbing murder of American tourist Bobby Ray Carter Jr and the assault of his 27-year-old son in Krabi four weeks ago yesterday. Since then, however, the case has slowed to a crawl. A trial date has yet to be set, police have yet to press formal charges and all three suspects are out on bail. The Gazette‘s Chutharat Plerin reports.

PHUKET: Krabi Police arrived at the Little Longhorn Saloon bar in Ao Nang at about 1:30am on July 31 to find blood spattered on the ground and reports that two foreigners had been seriously injured in a brawl with three band members at the venue.

One of the foreigners, 51-year-old American tourist Bobby Ray Carter Jr, had suffered deep stab wounds. His son, Adam, 27, had also been hurt in the fracas, suffering serious head injuries and a stab wound to the arm. Both had been rushed to hospital.

Bobby Carter was pronounced dead soon after arriving at Krabi Hospital.

The three band members –Ratikorn Romin,27, from Phang Nga; Nopanan Yoddecha, 26, from Krabi; and Sathid Somsa, 40,from Bangkok – did not flee the scene and were immediately arrested.

Hours later at Krabi Town Police Station, all three accepted charges related to brawling, but denied any intent to kill.

“We accept that we attacked them, but we didn’t intend to kill anyone,” Mr Ratikorn said in his statement to police.

“The father and son came to the pub and they joined us singing on the stage. Then we had an argument with them because they refused to stop singing when the time was up.

“The father knocked our tip-box to the floor. We left the stage and sat [outside] in front of the bar… After a while they came outside and started another argument with us. The father knocked me to the ground first, and I could not breathe because he was sitting on my chest.

“Then I spotted a sharp piece of metal nearby, so I grabbed it and stabbed him,” Mr Ratikorn said.

All three suspects were charged with inflicting bodily harm causing the death and assault. Mr Sathid was also charged with possession of an illegal firearm after he was found at the scene with a homemade gun.

Despite the fast initial action by police, however, the case has now drawn out beyond expectations and the initial murder charges by police have been rounded down to manslaughter.

“The three suspects have now been charged with causing death by inflicting injury upon the body of such person without intent to cause death,” Krabi Town Police Deputy Superintendent Noppadol Mukda confirmed this week.

“We are now collecting more evidence so we can hand over the case to the Public Prosecutor as soon as possible,” he added.

“The suspects have not been formally charged in court. So far they have only been presented with police charges,” Lt Col Noppadol said.

“We have also yet to find the weapon,” he added.

In order to continue their investigation, police were forced to hand the suspects over to the court, which subsequently granted all three bail.

“Police can detain the suspects only 48 hours before we must release them, so we asked the court to take them into custody. The court then granted them bail. That was the court’s decision,” Col Noppadol explained.

Officers at Krabi Court declined to reveal over the phone any information regarding the bail posted by the three suspects, including how much bail was posted or who may have provided a good behavior surety.

However, an officer at the court’s bail division explained, “Bail is normally set at 500,000 baht for murder suspects, and at about 180,000 baht for assault causing death.”

Krabi Provincial Police Commander Nantadech Yoinuan supported the court’s decision.

“The fact that the suspects had not fled the scene and had made partial confessions stood in their favor. That is why the court granted them bail,” he said.

To expedite proceedings, Bobby Ray’s son, Adam, was permitted to give his statement to the court on August 5-7 and then return home to Dallas, Texas.

However, Krabi Provincial Police Deputy Commander Col Boontawee Toraksa declined to relate to the Gazette any statements given by Adam.

TRANSLATORS

Adam’s pre-trial testimony also raised the issue of which translators may be used in giving evidence, as the suspects refused a translator provided by the US Embassy in Bangkok.

“They had the right to refuse the translator, whether or not it postponed proceedings,” Col Noppadol explained.

“As they were out on bail and the trial had not yet begun, they were asked to attend the sessions during which Adam gave his testimony. We could not force them,” he said.

“The suspects were concerned the version of events relayed by the translator provided by the embassy would not be entirely accurate. However, they agreed to use a translator provided by the court,” he added.

Suspects must accept a provided court translator, but if a court translator is not available, they can demand to have one they deem appropriate, Col Noppadol explained.

“If everyone agrees, proceedings may go ahead and will be recognized by the court,” he said.

“However, every person has the right to have a translator present to assist in understanding evidence presented to the court,” he said.

Krabi TAT office Director Wiyada Srirangkul confirmed that the TAT Krabi office does offer to provide translators for foreigners involved in criminal cases, a development that arose from the case of a Dutch female tourist who was allegedly raped in Ao Nang late last year. The case made international headlines following the posting of the YouTube music video “Evil Man from Krabi”.

“We provide translators for tourists at the request of the tourists themselves or of their embassies. However, we did not provide a translator for Adam because the US embassy decided to handle it,” she said.

NO PRESSURE

In bringing the case to trial, the public prosecutor in charge explained to the Phuket Gazette that police have 84 days from the day the suspects are presented to the court to actually press formal charges.

“We cannot tell how long it will take. The police have to finish their investigation first,” the prosecutor said, declining to be named by the press.

“We have not set a deadline for pressing formal charges, but it must be done within 84 days of the suspects being handed over to the court,” Col Noppadol confirmed.

Asked whether the case deserved to be prioritized, Col Noppadol said: “That is the judge’s decision.”

JAIL TIME

Although manslaughter charges incur jail sentences of three to 15 years, Mr Ratikorn confessing to stabbing Bobby Carter is likely to result in a relatively light sentence being handed down.

“If suspects confess, the sentence handed down is usually less severe. However, that all depends on the judge,” the case prosecutor told the Gazette.

If jail time is demanded, the suspects are likely to serve it at Krabi Prison, which incarcerates prisoners who receive sentences of 10 years or less. Prison terms are normally served in the province where the crime was committed.

“However, if they receive sentences of more than 10 years, they will be sent to the maximum security prison in Nakhon Sri Thammarat,” the case prosecutor explained.

Prisoners also receive reduced sentences for good behavior, which means they are likely to not serve full terms, he added.

— Chutharat Plerin

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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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