Tourist condemns Thai police injustice
Thai police are again under fire overseas after an Australian TV report about a man who lost his girlfriend in an accident and was then allegedly framed by police on Koh Samui.
- Published: 30/11/2012 at 03:40 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Tragedy in Thailand aired on Channel 9 in Australia on Tuesday. Jamie Keith (left) alleges Koh Samui police attempted to exort money from him after the death of his girlfriend, Nicole Fitzsimons (right) in a motorcycle accident. Image from Channel 9.
Tragedy in Thailand, an episode of the popular TV show A Current Affair on Australia's Channel 9 network, accused Thai police of injustice and corruption.
Police responded on Friday by reopening the case and transferring the chief of the station in charge of the original investigation. However, the chief denied allegations of corruption.
During a getaway that was supposed to be the trip of their dreams, Jamie Keith faced his worst nightmare while dealing with Thai police after an accident that killed his girlfriend Nicole Fitzsimons, a former Channel 9 reporter.
The couple went to Koh Samui in Surat Thani province in October this year. On their last night on the island, they were heading back to their hotel after dinner when the accident occurred.
In the TV report, video footage from a surveillance camera in the area showed the couple slowing their scooter to make a right turn into the hotel when a speeding bike crashed into them.
The couple, who were not wearing crash helmets, were thrown off their scooter and Fitzsimons was severely injured. She died three hours later.
The accident took place at 11pm on Oct 18, according to Bor Phut police in Koh Samui district. The Thai driver was identified as Kongla Satue.
Mr Keith said he was not only saddened by his girlfriend’s death but also by the actions of the Thai police.
He was taken to the police station after being released from hospital, where he was handed a document in Thai. He said police demanded he sign a confession as the guilty party in the crash, in exchange for his passport, but he refused.
Six days later, Mr Keith reluctantly agreed to sign a document which stated there was no guilty party in the accident.
"Jamie and Nicole’s family were denied justice over the accident,” the show's presenter said.
"Grief is momentarily overtaken by disbelief when unscrupulous Thai police tried to turn the tragic loss of a young Australian woman into a pay day for themselves.”
In the video, Fitzsimons’ father said he was told that it would cost him between A$15,000 and A$30,000 (480,000 to 960,000 baht) to get Mr Keith out of the situation.
"They said it was an accident. That bloke is walking free, it burns me to see that,” Mr Keith said in tears.
“It’s a cruel world [in Thailand], and we have seen it; there are no laws."
The criticism comes about a month after the father of a Dutch woman who was assaulted and raped posted a video “Evil Man from Krabi” condemning the Thai police for their negligence in bringing justice for his daughter.
The show in Australia has rattled the Thai police. Pol Col Samran Machareon, chief of the Bor Phut station, was transferred to the Provincial Police Region 8 office on Friday.
Pol Lt Gen Yongyuth Wanichchareon, chief of the regional police, signed the transfer order, which took effect immediately, and reopened an investigation into the case.
He admitted flaws in the probe by the Bor Phut police, in whose jurisdictiojn the accident occurred. He has handed over the investigation to a senior officer at the Provincial Police Region 8.
He criticised the Bor Phut police for failing to file a charge against Mr Kongla and said Pol Col Samran had to take responsibility.
But the Bor Phut chief insisted that both Mr Kongla and Mr Keith were charged with reckless driving and the case was investigated fairly.
He defended his subordinates, saying they did not demand money from Mr Keith or force him to confess that he was the guilty party.
"The document he signed was a police report which included the damages on which the two parties agreed," he added. "The police had to keep his passport as part of the procedure and it was returned to him after he signed the report without any condition or money in exchange."
Thanongsak Somwong, chief of the Samui Tourism Association, urged the police to be transparent in the investigation to bring justice to the victim.
The case must be handled in a straightforward manner and the police should not rush to wrap it up, he said.
Poor handling of the case could jeopardise the image of the island in the eyes of Australians as the high season is approaching, he added.
About the author
- Writer: Online Reporters
- Position: Online Reporters