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Koh Tao suspects get death

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2015 at 10:29 AM
A Thai court sentenced two Myanmar migrant workers to death on Thursday after convicting them of the 2014 murders of two young British tourists on a holiday island. The battered bodies of backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found on a beach on the island of Koh Tao in September 2014. Police said Witheridge, 23, had been raped and bludgeoned to death. Miller, 24, also suffered blows to his head. Following weeks of pressure to solve the case, police arrested Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun. The verdict and sentence follow an investigation and trial that triggered allegations of police incompetence, mishandling of evidence and DNA tests and torture of the suspects. The verdicts came after 21 days of witness hearings in a trial that began in July and ended in October. The court said the DNA tests by investigators were carried out to acceptable standards and the DNA found on Witheridge matched that of the defendants. The judge said there was no weight to the two men's claims that they had been tortured. Miller's family flew to Thailand for the verdict. His brother, Michael, delivered a statement to reporters outside the court and said justice had been delivered, adding that the two men had shown no remorse for what they had done. (Source:The Nation)


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US: No democracy, no ties

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2015 at 17:56 PM
The bilateral cooperation between Thailand and the United States would be resumed only after democracy has been restored, Daniel Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said yesterday. Good relations with Thailand were a valuable asset for the US, said Russel, adding he hoped to see prosperity and stability return to the Kingdom. At a meeting yesterday, he told Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that he understood the situation in Thailand, but retained concerns over human-rights issues and democracy. Russel was considered in Bangkok as a controversial diplomat when, earlier this year, he branded the impeachment of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra "politically driven". It is widely believed that his attitude toward the junta and the military-led government has led to a chill in bilateral ties since the May 22, 2014 coup. Prayut responded to Russel's comments by saying that his government was trying to achieve a balance between democracy and human rights as well as national security and stability. (Source: The Nation)


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Funeral Procession Supreme Patriarch

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2015 at 15:49 PM
THE GRAND cremation ceremony for His Holiness the late Supreme Patriarch will be held today. People can pay their last respects to the late monk by laying wood-shaving flowers, dokmai chan, as a last tribute to him at various temples across the country.HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will lay dokmai chan at Wat Thepsirintharawas at 4.30 pm today. In Bangkok, dokmai chan laying will be held after 4.30 pm at various temples except Wat Bovoranives where the wooden flowers can be laid between 12.30pm and 3.30pm as well as between 6pm and 7pm only. During his lifetime, His Holiness had stayed at the Wat Bovoranives. Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Somdet Phra Sangharaja passed away in October, 2013, at the age of 100. He was the longest-living supreme patriarch of Thailand.(In Thailand the cremation of important people can take place up to several years after their death). His passing brings great sadness to his devout followers as well as many other Buddhists. People will wear black again today in mourning and out of respect to the late Supreme Patriarch. Between 6am and noon, 24 roads in Bangkok were closed to facilitate the elaborate 1,383-strong 456-metre-long funeral procession, beautifully decorated according to Thai tradition, to bring the late highly revered monk's body to the Royal Crematorium at Wat Thepsirin-tharawas. Thousands of people are expected to join the procession that will move from Bovoranives along Wat Phra Sumen Road, Phanfa Lilat Bridge, Lan Luang Road, and Krung Kasem Canal towards Wat Thepsirintharawas where the grand cremation will take place at 5.30pm. Yesterday, the Crown Prince, together with HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, attended a merit-making ritual in dedication to the late Supreme Patriarch at Wat Bovoranives. (Source: The Nation)


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Nine years for Facebook posting

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2015 at 15:42 PM
A Thai military court has jailed a woman for over nine years for royal defamation, an official said Wednesday. The woman, Chayapa Shokpornbudsri, was found guilty Tuesday of defaming the monarchy on Facebook at a hearing held without her lawyer's presence, a court official told AFP. The 49-year-old was handed a 19-year sentence which was cut to nine and a half years after she pleaded guilty, the official said, adding it was "a secret ruling". "From her Facebook posts, she was found guilty of defaming the monarchy, threatening state security and violations of the computer crimes act," the court official said on condition of anonymity. Chayapa's lawyer Khumklao Songsomboon, from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, told AFP Wednesday she had not been informed of the court hearing in advance. Chayapa "was crying when she rang yesterday. I only knew about the verdict after it had happened," Khumklao said. "I don't know why [they didn't tell me]. I don't know what the court's intention was," she said, adding the lack of notice violated her client's human rights. Chayapa "was accused of posting some messages in June about a counter-coup that could have created chaos in the country and which defamed the monarchy," she added. (Source: The Nation)


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Overstaying foreigners will be blacklisted

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2015 at 11:29 AM
The Royal Decree on the blacklisting should be promulgated in late March, bureau chief Pol Maj-General Natthorn Prosunthorn said. He added that foreigners would be divided into two groups: those who overstay but turn themselves in, and those who are arrested for overstaying. In the first group, those who have overstayed for a year will be subjected to a three-year entry ban; those with over three years of overstay will be banned for five years; while those with five years overstay will not be allowed entry for 10 years. Those in the second group will be banned from five to 10 years depending on the length of overstay. He expected a large number of foreigners to contact the authorities before the law is implemented. Natthorn added that this new law would help the authorities monitor foreigners and ensure quality visitors. "The existing law is weak, with a maximum fine of just Bt20,000," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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French ambassador: Prayut moderate

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2015 at 13:28 PM
GILLES GARACHON, the newly appointed French ambassador to Bangkok, has expressed sympathetic views on Thailand's ongoing political transition towards a democratic path, saying the current regime led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was considered "moderate". The envoy, previously French ambassador to the Philippines, told The Nation in an interview he had observed some restraint in the use of power by the Prayut government over the past year and a half. The military took over the country's administration following the May 22, 2014 coup. Garachon, who first visited Thailand as a tourist back in 1972, said France cared about human rights, but he had not noticed events that were worrisome during this transition period. (Source: The Nation)


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Various ways to celebrate King's birthday

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2015 at 13:13 PM
Provincial governors led hundreds of thousands of Thais all over the country to make merits in various activities to mark His Majesty the King's 88th birthday on Saturday. All of them wore yellow, the royal colour. Among the standard activities in all provinces are giving morning alms to monks, paying homage to His Majesty's image, signing well-wishing messages and lighting candles in the evening, all to show their love and loyalty to the monarch. The number of monks receiving the alms varied from 89, an auspicious number based on His Majesty's age plus one for longevity according to Thai belief, to 119. In some provinces, addition activities were planned such as releasing fish into rivers, buying cows and buffaloes destined for slaughterhouses, donating blood, ordaining novices, among others. Some people planned activities of their own to celebrate the occasion. In Phitsanulok, Thana Thientanoo, a fried chicken vendor opposite the governor's residence, offered free chicken throughout the day. Most of his customers still offered to pay but Mr Thana declined to accept the money. "This is the least I can do to make merits on this auspicious day. I want to help people save their meal costs," he said. Inspired by a shop in Prachin Buri which does this every Father's Day, Mr Thana said he began to offer the free food since the Queen's Birthday on Aug 12, 2014. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Paintings based on King's music

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2015 at 13:08 PM
THAIS AROUND the country and overseas unite every December 5 to celebrate and pay homage to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the occasion of his birthday. As His Majesty marks his 88th birthday today, eight of Thailand's best-known artists are honouring the King as a world-renowned musician, composer, arranger, and performer with an exhibition of newly created paintings inspired by the King's much-loved composition "Klai Roong" ("Near Dawn"). Prateep Kochabua, Muangthai Busamaro, Thavorn Ko-udomvit, Rearngsak Boonyavanishkul, Ekachai Luadsoongnern, Nitikorn Kraivixien, Thongchai Srisukprasert and Panya Vijinthanasarn have each created a painting based on their interpretation of one of the eight verses of the royal repertoire. Composed in 1946, "Near Dawn" was penned in Thai by Professor Dr Prasert Na Nagara with the contribution of HRH Prince Chakrabandh Pansiri. (Source: The Nation)


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His Majesty is 88 years old

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2015 at 13:02 PM
COMMANDING overwhelming love and respect from his people, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej turns 88 years of age today. His birthday, as always, is a cause for celebrations across Thailand. Alms-giving, merit-making and prayer ceremonies will be held in all provinces today as Thais dedicate good deeds in honour of their beloved monarch. Many, have joined various good activities held to mark the King's birthday since yesterday. In Surat Thani province, 89 tuk-tuk drivers together with a cooperative and a firm offered free rides to passengers from 9.30am to 6pm yesterday under a "Do Good Deeds for Our Dad" initiative. His Majesty is the unifying paternal figure of the nation. In Phichit province, a number of police and local people turned up at the provincial police headquarters to donate blood in another good project for the King. More than 300 teachers, parents and students in Yala province rode bicycles from their school to an elderly home to provide free food there. In Krabi province, local leaders joined hands with local students, entrepreneurs and the Trash Hero Ao Nang group in cleaning the Nopparat Thara beach in dedication to His Majesty. With his moral authority, the much-revered monarch has been a great inspiration for his people in doing good things. Due to the fragile health and old age om the Monarch there was no "birthday speech". (Source: The Nation)


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IS warning for Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 4 December 2015 at 13:26 PM
Despite the recently leaked memo from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) warning that Islamic State (IS) terrorists had been despatched to Phuket, Thai authorities had been aware of the situation since October, confirmed the Russian Federation Deputy Honorary Consul to Phuket. "Thailand's National Security Council received the warning in October stating that ten possible terrorists entered the Kingdom between October 15-31, Santi Udomkiratak, the Russian Federation Deputy Honorary Consul to Phuket, told the Phuket Gazette. "According to the warning, the group split on arrival with four heading to Pattaya, two to Phuket, two to Bangkok and two to unidentified locations. The warning did not name the suspects." Mr Santi explained that after receiving the warning, he was immediately in contact with the Phuket Provincial Police and the Phuket Governor to ensure all necessary security measures were put in place. "The warning specifically noted that security should be increased around Russian buildings and personnel, so we have installed more CCTV at the consulate and increased the frequency of our security rounds," he said. The memo also urged authorities to increase security around facilities and people whose home countries are in alliance with Russia, such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and Australia. (Source: The Nation)


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Police hunts gibbon touts

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2015 at 23:34 PM
Unaware of officers failing to find and arrest an illegal gibbon tout regularly operating at a specific time and location on Phi Phi Don, the recently appointed Phi Phi Police Chief Jetsada Junphum has taken matters into his own hands. "I did not see the video sent to my officers until the Phuket Gazette sent it directly to me," Lt Col Jetsada said. "I didn't realize that officers were working on the case and failing to get results." "I patrolled the area with several officers on Saturday, but did not spot the suspect," explained Col Jetsada. "Restaurant owners in the area explained that the tout hadn't been there for the last few days." One tout, arrested earlier this year, told officials that he could earn at least 5,000 baht per day during the low season and up to 20,000 baht per day during the high season. With the possibility of making more than 500,000 baht a month during the high season, the maximum punishment not more than a 4,000-baht fine, four years imprisonment or both is hardly a deterrent, explained Suwat Suksiri, chief of the Thung Talay Non Hunting Zone. Gibbons are generally brought to Phi Phi from Phuket. These baby gibbons, costing about 25,000 baht each, are sourced from the wild by poachers who take them from their mothers. The mother is killed in the process, Mr Suwat explained. Complaints or tip-offs can be filed with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) hotline at 1362. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Credit card fraud solved

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2015 at 23:28 PM
The 'purchaser' for a nationwide credit card theft ring that targeted tourists was arrested on Sunday in Phang Nga after he escaped Phuket in a dramatic car chase. Pitawat Akarathitiveerakul, 53, explained to police that he was part of a criminal network that stole tourists' credit cards when they put their luggage on buses and other forms of public transport. "The stolen credit cards were then sent to Mr Pitawat, who used them to purchase expensive items that could be resold in other locations in the country," explained Lt Col Prawit Engchuan of the Phuket Provincial Police. "The profits were then split among those involved, with the original thieves getting a flat rate of 10,000 baht per credit card." Police were tipped off to the operation after Kasikorn Bank informed them of the suspicious card transactions. On Sunday, police witnessed Mr Pitawat make a fraudulent transaction at Tesco Lotus Chalong. They followed him out of the store and into the parking lot, where they saw him get into a car being driven by Rakrob Daroonphan. "When we presented ourselves, Mr Rakrob sped away with Mr Pitawat," Col Prawit said. "Officers gave chase, and even shot out one of the tyres of the car. However, he was still able to escape." By the time police provided officers at the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint with a description of the car, the suspects had already crossed the bridge into Phang Nga. Items allegedly purchased illegally by Mr Pitawat, including iPhones and iPad Minis, had already been sold in Bangkok. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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US downgrades Thai Aviation authorities

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2015 at 23:17 PM
The US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) decided to downgrade Civil Aviation Administration of Thailand (CAAT) status from Category I to Category II. The new status means that all airlines certified by the Thai aviation authorities are unable to increase flights or operate to new destinations in the United States. THAI President Charamporn Jotikasthira said in a statement that THAI has operated no flight to the US, after the termination of its Bangkok-Los Angeles route on October 25. "THAI confirms its commitment to aviation safety standards, and assures all that THAI operates with the highest international aviation safety standards," he said. The FAA's move is a blow to the Thai aviation authorities which have been criticised of lax safety standards. It was believed that its decision would encourage the authorities in other countries to impose strict rules on Thai airlines. (Source: The Nation)


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