CRIME AND FOREIGNERS IN THAILAND: SCAMS, MURDERED TOURISTS AND CRIMES BY FOREIGNERS

FOREIGNERS AS TARGETS OF CRIME IN THAILAND

Foreigners are generally not victimized by violent crime. If they are and the criminals are caught they are dealt with harshly. Foreigners are sometimes the targets of gem rip offs and scams involving prostitutes and gangsters. There were a number of robberies, attacks and even murders involving foreigners in Pattaya in the late 1990. Many of the crimes were carried out by other foreigners.

There have been reports of people being robbed after their drinks were spiked. There was even a report of prostitute that robbed her customers by knocking them out with drugged gel rubbed on her nipples. Don’t take drinks offered by strangers. They could be drugged with knockout or "date rape" drugs like Scopolamine, Rohypnol or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB).

A number of crimes in which foreigners have been the victims have occurred at the all-night Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of assaults, robberies, muggings and sexual attacks on tourists in the in bars and the area surrounding Haad Rin on the island. Break-ins at hotel bungalows while partygoers are away from their rooms sometimes occur as well. Many Thais from Bangkok do not visit the Samui archipelago because of its reputation.

The British Embassy in Thailand has warned that western tourists have been victims of vicious unprovoked attacks by gangs in Koh Phangan. "These attacks are particularly common around the time of the Full Moon parties and generally occur late at night near bars in Haad Rin. Exercise caution when walking in this area at any time, especially after dark."

Also See Separate Article CRIME IN THAILAND: RAPE, MURDER, YOUTH CRIME AND CRIMINALS HIGH ON DRUGS

Scams Directed at Foreigners in Thailand

A scam is a fraudulent business scheme used to obtain money by deceit. Many tourists and visitors to Thailand have become victims of scam tactics and some have lost considerable amounts of money. A variety of scams are commonplace in Thailand, including gem and jewellery scams, card game scams and time share property/holiday club scams. There is a local website, dedicated to highlighting scams that may be employed: www.bangkokscams.co .

Gem Scams: You should not take the word of other people on how much money you can make if you sell these gems on return to your home country. If you don't know about gems be very cautious what you buy. Use caution when purchasing gems as bargains are not always what they appear and gem “experts" many be part of the ploy. Tuk tuk drivers receive a commission for taking you to a factory or shop - it is not because they want to do you a favour. There is a gang of well-dressed people known to be working this scam in the vicinity of the Erawan temple and on the skytrain walkway above it in Chit Lom. They appear to just be passers-by but they are not, they will strike up conversation and recommend you visit a gem factory for special discounts. They can be very persuasive but do not get into any tuk-tuks they may flag down for you.The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) website has some simple but practical advice on purchasing gems and jewellery: www.tat.or.th

Card scams can involve being befriended by a local and asked to join in a friendly game of cards. Once you have won a few times, the stakes increase and your winning streak disappears. These scams can have serious consequences – local gangs have been known to force victims into withdrawing large sums of money from ATM machines (or risk fingers being cut off) in order to pay these card game debts. There are many sad stories told about why you should join in a game of cards, such as to help the family earn enough money to pay for a hospital bill or medical operation. Avoid getting involved. Gambling is illegal in Thailand.

Time-Share and Holiday Club rackets: At prime tourist holiday locations such as Phuket and Koh Samui, a number of property Time-Share and Holiday Club rackets are being run. In a typical sting, visitors are approached on the street and asked to complete a tourist questionnaire or survey, later they are contacted and told they have won a lucky draw for participating in the survey and they need to come and collect their prize. Upon arriving they are subjected to heavy pressure and intimidation to purchase or make an initial deposit of a few thousand dollars on a time-share property, holiday club or are required to attend seminars on the benefits of such time-share and club arrangements. Many people pay in order just to get away.

Patpong Sex Show scam: Don't believe the touts outside who say free sex shows and drinks for only 100 baht each. You will end up paying a bill in the thousands. Stay clear if you are alone as they can turn violent if you refuse to pay. 4) Wrong Change scam: A common scam in convenience stores - you hand over a 1,000 baht note to pay for a purchase but only receive change as if you had handed over 500 baht. 5) Hualamphong Scam: Outside the train station you will meet official looking people who will say they will help you book the seats. They take you to their nearby travel agent and pretend to ring the train booking office. They then say the train is full and your only way to travel is on one of their buses.

Boat/JetSki Insurance scam: If you rent anything, be it motorcycle, car or jet ski, make sure all scratches and dents are documented or else you could be blamed and liable for the (highly inflated) damage claim. The Grand Palace (or other tourist spot) is Closed scam: As you approach the Grand Palace, someone will tell you that it area is closed for some reason, but they are happy to take you to another location - usually a gem store or a tailor shop.

Other scams include the: 8) Bangkok Tuk-Tuk scam; 9) Blackjack scam; 10) Blue Dragon Factory Export Center scam; 11) Boat/Bus Advance Booking scam; 12) Boy Scout scam; 13) Golden Argosy Gem Factory scam; 14) Restaurant/Bar Bill scam; 15) Scratch and Win scam; 16) Tailor scam; 17) "Thaee" Matchmaking scam; 18) Holiday Club (& Time-Share) scams.

New themes and variations for conducting scams are constantly appearing. Visitors should be alert to being targeted by even the most friendly of people, be they locals or foreign nationals. Victims of any scam should report the incident to the Thai Tourist Police. Amongst the more commonly known and played scams are: 1) Advance Tourist Visa scam. 2) Airport Taxi scam: Official looking touts will pretend that they are metered taxis and will tell you it is 500-1000 baht to go into town. The meter taxi outside is less than half this amount. Ignore anyone who asks if you want a taxi. The real taxi drivers are waiting outside by their cars.

Crimes by Foreigners in Thailand

A number of criminals from other countries find their way to Thailand for opportunities, good times and to escape the law. Pattaya, with its sex shows and bar girls, is an attractive destination for gang members from Russia, Japan and Britain. In the late 1996, nearly 50 foreigners were killed. Many were victims of gang vendettas or robberies. In June 2006, a Thai-born British brothel keeper, who was sentenced to prison in England in 2000 and fled to Thailand, was arrested in Thailand.

AFP reported: “Child protection groups and criminal experts fear that Thailand‘s reputation as a haven where crimes go unpunished is attracting foreigners seeking a luxurious lifestyle while escaping justice. The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific, says that many countries in Asia are seen as more corrupt than Western nations. There are no good laws in many countries in Asia to be able to prosecute pornographers and perpetrators of sexual violence, Asia is a refuge, a haven. It‘s a paradise for perpetrators. Barely a month goes by in Thailand without another arrest of a foreign sex offender or violent criminal. Last week, an Australian man wanted on pedophile charges was arrested on the Thai border with Cambodia. [Source: AFP, August 18, 2006]=

“Nualnoi Treerat, co-author of a book on Thailand‘s illegal economy, Guns, Girls, Gambling and Ganja, says that many foreign criminals head to beach resorts such as Pattaya, Samui and Phuket. "They like to go to the tourist places because it is easy to hide themselves among the tourists and legitimate businessmen," "The law enforcement in Thailand is not really strict," she says. However Thai officials say they are making progress. According to immigration officials, 329 people were deported in 2005 – which would include people wanted for crimes overseas and tourists working illegally. This number has been rising steadily since 2002, when 207 were removed. “=

In 2009 The Nation reported: “In recent months there has been a spate of crimes involving foreign suspects - bank robberies, jewellery thefts, house break-ins, purse-cutting and even kidnapping. The foreign criminals are only adding salt to the wounds of the locals already suffering from the crimes committed by their compatriots. Many cases have been reported in tourist cities like Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. [Source: The Nation, September 27, 2009+]

“These are in addition to drug trafficking and Mafia-type acts committed by foreigners that target their compatriots as well as Thais, such as extortion rings and gangs of beggars. Also, criminals who escape the hand of the law in their countries - bank robbers, fraudsters, murderers, swindlers and pedophiles - find a new haven somewhere in Thailand. Fortunately, many of them have been arrested, in most cases at the intervention of authorities in their country or Interpol, because Thai police do not have their criminal records. +

Recent larcenies involving foreigners targeted victims who operate jewellery shops. They carried away a large amount of gold ornaments. The value of the stolen jewels in each case ranged from less than Bt1 million to more than Bt50 million. In most cases the perpetrators did not use weapons and, working as teams, simply confused or deflected the attention of their victims before taking away the valuables. +

See Pedophiles

Reason for the Rising Crime Rate by Foreigners in Thailand

According to The Nation: “There appears to be a perception among many arrested foreign suspects that they can bribe their way to freedom. There were many cases in which Thai authorities rejected such offers and instead added the charge of bribery against the suspects. But critics say many successful cases of bribery go unreported. It is perhaps a matter of national pride. Police are unlikely to accept bribes from foreign suspects, especially if the offers are done too obviously, such as in front of other officers at a police station. That was exactly what two Vietnamese pickpockets did after their arrests near Bangkok's Victory Monument. [Source: The Nation, September 27, 2009+]

“Judging from accounts given by many of the arrested suspects of larceny from neighbouring countries, it is easy for them to travel from the border areas to Bangkok. Suspects from neighbouring countries in the East said they simply sneaked across the porous borders and took a train to the capital, where they could find plenty of possible victims. After they got their money, they just left the country. Criminals from faraway countries often rushed to the nearest airport and flew away. It would be days, if not weeks, before the police could find out about their identities. +

“Many foreign criminals find the policy of promoting tourism favourable to them. They can apply for visas on arrival to stay in the country for at least 15 days, in addition to tourist visas that allow visitors a maximum 60-day stay. +

Murder of Foreigners in Thailand

In March 1999, Australian accountants Michael Wansley, who had been investigating one family's $450 million in debt, was killed when a motorcycle gunman pulled up beside his vehicle and pumped eight bullets into him from an 11mmm pistol.

In November 2003, a 35-year-old French tourist was shot dead after he refused to hand over his money to robbers who accosted him along with some friends as he returned at 2:00am to his guesthouse near the Bridge Over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi Province (110 kilometers west of Bangkok).

In November 2005, a notorious Dutch gangster was shot in the seaside town of Pattaya, apparently in retaliation for the assassination of a lawyer who defended senior Amsterdam crime figures.

In September 2006, a Belgian tourist was found dead on Phi Phi island with a single gun shot wound to the head. The victim, 24-year-old Gregory Van De Vaeren, had just arrived on the island two days before and shot as he emerged from a bar at 2;45am. Van De Vaeren had been drinking heavily. He was shot by a Thai driving instructor who the Belgian had argued with before he was shot.

In March 2008, Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: “Several killings of tourists have been reported in a little more than a year. In February 2007, two Russian women were fatally shot while sitting in beach chairs at Pattaya, a popular resort. A 24-year-old laborer confessed, saying he had intended only to rob the women but “had to shoot them as they were yelling and screaming.” In January, a Canadian tourist was shot dead and his wife was wounded outside a pub in the northern city of Mae Hong Son. A policeman confessed but said he had acted in self-defense when the couple assaulted him. [Source: Seth Mydans, New York Times, March 27, 2008]

Koh Phangan Full-Moon Party Murders

On New Years Eve 2012, 22-year-old British tourist Stephen Ashton was killed by a stray bullet. Victoria Ward wrote in the Telegraph, “Ashton was killed as he danced with friends at a beach bar on the popular island of Koh Phangan. He is believed to have been caught in the crossfire when an argument between two groups of youths suddenly escalated. [Source: Victoria Ward, the Telegraph, January 2, 2013]

Mr Ashton, a junior City trader, had quit his job in November and had planned to travel from Thailand to Australia. Local police spokesman Lt Col Somsak Noorod said: "He was shot in the side while he was dancing on the beach." He was rushed to Bandon International Hospital on the neighbouring island of Koh Samui, but was later pronounced dead.

The suspect, named locally as Ekkapan Kaewkla, 26, was subsequently arrested and was found in possession of a homemade gun. On his arrest, Ekkapan admitted he had fought with another group of men at Zoom Bar but denied firing the fatal shot, according to local reports. A few days after the murder Ekkapan Kaewkla appeared in court. Police Colonel Kittakarn Kramothong, said: “Stephen was not involved in the fight.”

Around 300 revellers attended the Countdown party at the Zoom Bar on Haad Rin beach on Monday night. Witnesses said that two groups of Thai youths got into an argument which escalated into a fist-fight at around 4am. As one of the groups ran from the bar, one man turned and fired a shot back inside. Ashton was shot in the torso.Sophie Harwin, a graphics editor from Surrey, had spent the evening nearby but left the area before the shooting occurred. “I just met someone who said loads of people were trying to save him,” she said. “Very sad."

Mr Ashton had been staying with a group of friends at Pink's Bungalows, a series of basic wooden beachside properties in the fishing village of Ban Tai, not far from Haad Rin. He had posted a photograph of himself and two friends drinking beers in a Thai bar on Facebook on December 13.

This wasn’t the only murder on Koh Phanga. In 2004, three Thais were gunned down in a fight on Haad Rin beach. In April 2007 Israeli tourist David Kakitelashvic, 31, died after being stabbed eight times with a knife at the beach’s Drop Inn Bar. A gang of teenagers, including the son of a local politician, were the chief suspects. In March 2008 an Indian tourist was stabbed to death trying to break up a fight during the full-moon party.

Murders and Attacks on Foreign Women in Thailand

Thailand is in general a very safe place to visit, although rapes of foreigners are reported periodically, and some embassy Web sites urge women to use caution when traveling alone. “We continue to receive reports of sexual offenses committed against foreign women and men,” the British Embassy warned on its Web site in 2008. “Female travelers in particular should maintain a high state of personal awareness during their time in Thailand.”

In January 2006, a 19-year-old Thai man was arrested and charged with raping a 29-year-old British tourist from Liverpool in Pattaya. The man, Phiphatphong Raksinlapa, offered a ride on his motorcycle to the victim, who was waiting at a taxi stand and accepted his offer, and then took her on a dark road and raped her behind some bushes. The rape took place only a few days after a British woman was murdered and raped by the two Thai fishermen (See Below).

Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: “Thai police say they will start handing out whistles to foreign women who visit after the latest in a long series of periodic sexual assaults and killings. "We will issue the whistles first in risky areas such as beaches, valleys, mountains, national parks, waterfalls and other risky spots," Choochart Suwannakom, commander of the national tourist police, said. [Source: Seth Mydans, New York Times, March 27, 2008*]

“In March 2008, a 27-year-old female Swedish tourist, Hanna Backlund, was found dead on a on a secluded beach in Phuket. She had been attacked with sharp objects. Police arrested a 31-year-old labourer. The labourer, Akaradech Tangae, told the police that he had tried to rape Ms Backlund but that "she resisted, and I had to kill her", Reuters reported. Ms. Backlund was killed while walking alone on a secluded beach. A police officer described the suspect as a peeping Tom who “loves to bring friends to this remote and quiet beach to look at naked tourists.” Around the same time The Bangkok Post reported police had admitted failure in their investigation of the killing in 2000 of Kirsty Jones, 23, a British backpacker who was strangled in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai province. *

“Colonel Choochart played down the killings, saying: "Security in Thailand is better than in many other countries." He also contended some attacks were occasioned by the behaviour of the women. Under a front-page photograph of a Western woman lying on a beach, The Bangkok Post quoted Colonel Choochart as saying: "They tend to choose a quiet spot away from other people, take off the bikini and sunbathe. That's when the attackers strike." *

Two Thai Fishermen Sentenced to Death for Raping and Killing a 21-Year-Old British Woman

In January 2006, two Thai fishermen—24-year-old Wichai Sonkhaoyai and 23-year-old Bualoy Kothisit—raped and murdered British student Katherine Horton as she walked along a beach by herself at Koh Samui. In an unusually short trial, the two fishermen were sentenced to death just 17 days after the crime was committed. The judge said, “The court has ruled them guilty of all crimes they were charged with and imposed the maximum penalty. Such brutal and tortuous behavior of the two have shocked society, therefore the court sentenced them to death for committing murder to hide their crime.” The sentence was widely seen as a politicized response to a crime that was a blow to Thailand’s tourism. Prime Minister Thaksin said, the fishermen should receive the “hardest punishment” possible. Human rights activists condemned the decision. The defendants had pleaded guilt and apologized for they had done, which usually entitles murderers to life in prison rather than death.

The New York Times reported: “Even one of the convicted men, Wichai Sonkhaoyai, 24, understood the special magnitude of his crime."I am sorry for what I have done," he said after the verdict was read. "I apologize for ruining the country's image." According to court testimony, he and his co-defendant, Bualoy Kothisit, 23, had gotten drunk and watched pornographic movies aboard their trawler, a short swim from the white beaches of Koh Samui, an island known as one of Thailand's prime tourist resorts. The police said they admitted battering and raping Horton, a 21-year-old student, after they encountered her while she was walking alone on the beach. They then dragged her into the ocean, where she drowned. [Source: Seth Mydans, New York Times, January 18, 2006 *]

On the verdict, Kavi Chongkittavorn, a leading newspaper editor, told the New York Times. “"That's the key, image, and this is a damage-control operation." After the murder Koh Samui was “flooded with dozens of investigators from Bangkok. Cellphone coordinates and global positioning satellites have been studied. DNA tests have been conducted. The police activity has been heavily reported in the Thai press. Officials said the three-judge panel had acted unusually quickly because of the public implications of the case. Horton was killed on the evening of New Year's Day, her body was found Jan. 2, the suspects were arrested Jan. 9 and three days later they were charged in court. "Their minds are inhuman," said Judge Jamnong Sudjaimai as he read out the sentence. They had confessed to the crime, but the court did not take the customary step of reducing their sentence as a result, despite a plea for leniency by Horton's mother. *

Horton was talking on her mobile telephone with her mother in Wales when she was attacked. The mother, Elizabeth Horton, told reporters in Britain that she heard a scream and a dog barking before the line went dead. The killing has received wide publicity in Britain, which sends about 750,000 tourists to Thailand each year. Two other British women were raped in separate incidents in January 2006, the same month the woman was killed on Koh Samui, a British travel warning noted. *

Woman Stabbed to Death in Phuket Resisting Purse-Snatching

In June 2012, two Thai men killed an Australian travel agent on the island of Phuket. AP reported: “Michelle Elizabeth Smith was walking near her hotel when two men on a motorcycle tried to grab her bag and then stabbed her when she resisted. The 60-year-old walked away from the attack but collapsed and died shortly afterward. One suspect, Surasak Suwannachote, told reporters that he confessed to stabbing Smith. The other, Surin Tabthong, denied the charges. Both faced the death penalty if convicted. [Source: Tom Nightingale, AP, August 7, 9, 2012]

Security camera footage showed Smith walking down the street in Phuket when two men on a motorcycle passed her. The man on the back seat jumped off and tried to steal her bag. When she resisted the man repeatedly stabbed her.

In August 2012, AP reported: “Two Thai men have been given life sentences for the murder of” Smith. “Observers say the Thai men pleaded guilty to the charges to avoid a possible death sentence. Meanwhile Thai authorities have been trying to assure tourists that Phuket is safe. Surasak Suwannachote is aged 26. Another man, 37 year old Surin Tabthong, confessed to being involved and riding a motorbike away from the scene and getting rid of the knife. Usually in Thailand, if you plead guilty to murder the judge will commute it to a life sentence. If you don’t you get the death penalty.

Murdered Japanese in Thailand

In April 2006, the bodies of two Japanese businessmen in their 50s were found at the construction site of a factory complex used by Japanese food and rubber goods makers in Pathum Thani Province north of Bangkok. The victims—53-year-old trader Yoshio Kojima of Tokyo and 52- year-old Tatsuya Hisakane, a venture company president from Tokyo—were found in plastic bags, wearing only their underwear, shot in back of the head. A 64-year-old Chinese-Malaysian was arrested for the murder. He was believed to have killed the Japanese for money. According to police the suspect was paid by the two victims to pretend he was a board member of the World Bank and introduce the Japanese as World Bank executives to potential clients, The killer then then confined the Japanese men at the house of a woman in Bangkok and shot Kojima, who took about $800,000 with him to Thailand, after being held for days. He murderer killed Hisakane, who wired $1 million to Thailand before he came, the following day.

In November 2007, a 27-year-old female Japanese tourist, Tomoko Kawashita was found dead near the historical park at Sukhothay, an ancient city and former capital, during the Loy Krathong water festival. An investigation revealed she had been murdered. She had stayed at a nearby guest house, where she had rented a bike to check out the ruins at the park. She had was robbed and stabbed to death. A killer was not immediately found.

In November 2009, a 50-year-old Thai woman, Thabthim Saehak, was charged with murdering a 75-year-old Japanese man, Yukiho Yamada, in Phuket. Yamada’s remains were found in burned-out car left at a rubber plantation in southern Phuket.

In October 2009, 40-year-old Bangkok taxi driver Siriphong Kanchannaniwit confessed to killing the Thai wife and five-year-old son of a Japanese man. The dismembered body of the boy was found in a Bangkok suburb. The body of the wife, Sunan Srisuwamn, was found in another suburb, Siriphong said Sunan was his his girlfriend and she killed her because she asked him to kill her former husband.

In April 2011, a Thai tour guide was arrested after he confessed to shooting dead a Japanese tourist and injuring another while on a trekking trip near Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. The dead 43-year-old victim was found in a forest with gunshot wounds in his head and back. Police described the case as “mysterious” as the two victims were “also suspected of having a pistol or pistols.” according to to Kyodo news.

Thai Man Arrested for Murder of a Japanese 20 Year After the Crime

In 2012, Fox News reported: “A Thai man wanted for the 1993 murder of a woman in Japan was finally caught by police in his home country while traveling just outside of Bangkok. Having escaped from Japan that same year, 39-year-old Wirasak Iamphongsa was only five and a half months away from the 20 year limit for Japanese authorities to prosecute. While Thailand will prosecute him as a criminal, as it has no extradition treaty with Japan, had Wirasak not been apprehended by March 14th, 2013, he would have been off the hook. [Source: Adam Westlake, Japan Daily News, Fox News, October 9, 2012 +++]

“After his capture, Wirasak admitted to killing 33-yearold Megumi Awaji in her bed after getting into a fight. He was working at a bar in Shinjuku at the time and shared an apartment with Awaji. Police discovered her body a week after she had been stabbed to death in March 1993. Wirasak fled the country the day after killing Awaji, taking some of her belongings to Thailand with him. Police in Japan knew their 20 year statute of limitations was close to running out, so Tokyo detective Uichi Hara was dispatched to work with Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division to help find Wirasak. Thai prosecutors and authorities worked with the Japanese police and the evidence they provided, eventually tracking Wirasak on his mobile phone the day he was caught.+++

“The Crime Suppression Division say this is the first time Thailand issued an arrest warrant for a suspect that committed a crime outside the country. Wirasak reportedly told police that he was sorry, but knew that wouldn’t bring her back, recognizing that there was still a chance he could come out of jail during his lifetime, Awaji’s life was gone. He will be prosecuted under Thailand’s judicial system for the charge of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of death. +++

American Hacked to Death in Bangkok over $1.60 Cab Fare

In July 2013, NBC News reported: “A taxi driver hacked an American to death after an argument over a $1.60 fare, Thai officials said. Troy Lee Pilkington, 51, was repeatedly slashed with a 12-inch machete on Saturday night, according to Bangkok police. Police Lt. Col. Teerayut Maiplaeng said the suspect told them that Pilkington, who had lived in the country for three years, accused him of rigging the meter as they sat in traffic on the city’s busy Sukhumvit Road. The victim allegedly stormed out of the cab and refused to pay the 51 baht ($1.60) fare. [Source: NBC News, Associated Press, July 8, 2013]

The suspect claimed when he asked for the money, the American threw a cup of coffee at him, after which he pulled the knife from his trunk and chased after Pilkington. Video footage from a nearby surveillance camera captured part of the struggle and shows the taxi driver wildly swinging a machete as the other man flails his arms and tries to grab the driver. The two men then move out of the camera's view. Seconds later, the sword-wielding driver reappears in the frame as he flees the scene.

The suspect told police he panicked and that Pilkington, who worked for the American machinery company Caterpillar Inc., fell to the ground but he did not think that he would die, according to the Bangkok Post. After the attack, the suspect dumped the machete into a canal and threw away his shirt, the Post reported. Police identified the driver from the video footage and arrested him at his house. Chidchai Utmacha, 32, was arrested him on charges of murder and carrying a weapon in public without reasonable cause.

Murders by Foreigners in Thailand

Charles Sobhraj, a Frenchman known as “The Serpent,” was implicated in the murder of young Western women who were found drugged and killed at Pattaya resort in Thailand in the 1970s. He was jailed in India in 1976 for the poisoning death of a French tourist in New Delhi. He was released from prison in India in 1997, after the deadline for extradition to Thailand. In September 2003 he taken into custody while in Kathmandu and sentenced to life in prison there for the murder of an American backpacker in 1975.

In January 2008, a Japanese man living in Pattaya was accused of murdering his Japanese acquaintance. Toshihiko Sasaki, 53, was charged with premeditated murder of 67-year-old Hiroshi Nakazono. Sasaki had already been investigated for stealing $25,000 from Nakazono. Nakazono’s body was found on a mountainside in central Thailand some distance away from Pattaya.

In March 2008, a Canadian women was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for killing her partners, who claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. The same woman faces a number of fraud charges in Hawaii. Margeret Crabne, 50, was given two years for killing 56-year-old George Patrick Dubie after a quarrel in a restaurant in Chiang Mai and 1½ years of possessing a pistol. The sentence was light because the court ruled the defendant committed the crimes in a rage after being provoked. The same month a 65-year-old Australian man William Douglas, admitted shooting and killing 46-year-old American Gary Poetsky after an argument at a restaurant in Chiang Mai. The victim was shot three times in the face and chest. Both men were drunk.

In August 2008, the badly decomposed body of a 33-year-old Japanese Takahide Tanahashi, an online trader, was found dumped in a national park in northeast Thailand. Foul play was suspected because the body had been dumped but clues were hard to come by because the body was so badly decomposed. Two Japanese men in their 30s who withdrew $100,000 from the victim’s accounts were question in connection with his murder.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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