The Thai man who murdered the Swiss tourist at a Phuket waterfall last year has been sentenced to life in prison by the Phuket Court. 28 year old Teerawat Thothip was initially sentenced to death, but it was then reduced to life imprisonment given that Teerawat confessed to investigators.
The body of 57 year old victim Nicole Sauvain Weisskopf, the deputy protocol chief of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, was found at a creek near the Ao Yon waterfall in August 2021. A black sheet covered her body and she was only wearing a T-shirt and jacket. Her shorts and underwear were found nearby.
Teerawat was in the forest collecting wild orchids and plants when he saw the Swiss woman sitting on a rock by a stream with her feet in the water. At first, he intended to rape her. Reports say he attacked her from the back and grabbed her neck in a chokehold. She reportedly fought back and they both fell into the water.
Teerawat strangled her until she was unconscious and then took off her pants and underwear. According to reports in Thai media, Teerawat didn’t have sexual feelings after turning the woman around and seeing that she was dead. He then covered the body with a black plastic sheet, took 300 baht from the body, and fled.
Yesterday, the Phuket Provincial Court announced the judgment and invited the victim’s family in Switzerland to join through video conference. The court found Teerawat guilty of murder and sentenced him to death, but given that Teerawat confessed to the crimes throughout questioning, the penalty was commuted to life imprisonment.
Weisskopf had entered Thailand under the Phuket Sandbox reopening scheme, which had just launched a month prior and was the first entry programme allowing an alternative to quarantine since the start of the pandemic. Following the murder of the Sandbox tourist, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha called on authorities to expedite the investigation as well as improve the safety on the island.
SOURCES: Dailynews | Thairath | Matichon| Bangkok Post
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