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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Dramatic twist in Thai island ‘rape on beach’ case

Thai police have cast doubt on widely publicised allegations by a young female tourist that she was drugged, raped and robbed on the beach near a bar at a popular Thai island resort.

The 19-year-old British woman alleges she was raped on the southern Thai island of Koh Tao, or Turtle Island.

She told British police that someone spiked her drink in a bar before she was robbed and raped on the nearby beach, news outlets in Thailand and Britain reported. The woman claimed the rape occurred on the island’s Sairee Beach, the location in 2014 of the rape and murder of young British tourists Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24.

Since then, however, a police team from Bangkok says it has found no evidence or witnesses to support the claim.

Deputy tourist police chief, Police Major General Surachate Hakparn, told Thai News Agency that a team of 100 policemen from Bangkok had concluded their investigation.

“According to forensic and scientific evidence we collected based on the woman’s account, we found that no rape or drugging had taken place,” he said.

“The woman claimed she drank on Sairee beach in front of the Leo pub on the night in question [25 June 2018]. It was the day before the full moon and the tide was high. Seawater flooded the beach and almost entered the pub so it was impossible for anyone to eat or drink on the beach that night,” the Bangkok Post reported Surachate as saying.

“World Cup matches were also being broadcast at the time and there were a lot of people, as well as police, in the area. It was quite impossible for someone to carry an unconscious woman and wade through the water to rape her behind rocks without anyone noticing.”

Surachate added police were “open to new evidence”.

“Since the victim did not even contact the UK consul in Thailand, who is in charge of the safety of British nationals in the kingdom, we urge her to submit her evidence and give statements so we can investigate further. We’re even willing to take her statements in the UK if she doesn’t feel safe here.”

Since then, the issue seems to have moved further, with China’s Xinhua News Service quoting Surachate calling the rape case “groundless”, lacking any concrete evidence to substantiate it.

The report said Surachate had viewed footage from CCTV cameras in the neighbourhood to check the height of the tides.

Xinhua said the victim had lodged a complaint with the Koh Samui police the next day over personal belongings having gone missing, including THB 3000 baht (about AUD 130) in cash, a mobile phone and credit cards – but she did not mention to local police she had been raped by an unknown person.

According to Britain’s Daily Mail online, however, the girl’s family claims Koh Samui officers refused to take any details of the rape as it was not part of their jurisdiction.

Surachate has reportedly told Thai media that the British woman will be blacklisted from Thailand for life if she is lying.

Written by Peter Needham

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