Thai police have denied that a 19-year-old British woman was raped on Koh Tao, as widely reported in British media, and are threatening to take legal action against those they claim are spreading false stories to ruin Thailand’s reputation.
The case has gripped international attention since a British mother told media there that her teen daughter had been raped and robbed on the island’s Sairee Beach, the same beach where David Miller and Hannah Witheridge was brutally murdered in September 2014, earning Koh Tao the overwrought nickname “Death Island.”
On Tuesday, Deputy Director of Tourist Police Maj. Gen. Surachet Hakpan flew to the island to investigate the rape claim and held a press conference to categorically deny the rape ever happened.
“As soon as we had been informed of the case, in the last two days, we’ve carried out an investigation,” he said to reporters.
“From the witnesses’ statements and scientific evidence, we did not find that the incident happened. We did not find that there was a rape, based on our evidence,” Surachet said.
According to those reports, on the night of June 25, the victim drank at the Fish Bowl and Leo bars with her traveling companions before starting to feel “very tired” and passed out. She woke up on the beach outside the bars, her bottom half naked, with a man next to her. He was smiling at her before leaving the scene.
However, rather than going to the police on Koh Tao, she carried on with her travel plan to Koh Phangan and filed a police report there on the afternoon of June 27. That report, according to police, did not mention rape and focused solely on the theft of an iPhone 7, THB3,000 in cash, and four debit cards.
Surachet said at Tuesday’s press conference that an investigation is being launched into whether or not Koh Phangan police neglected the victim’s claim in any way.
On July 2, the woman left Thailand and, on returning home, gave the T-shirt she wore the night of the alleged rape to UK police, believing it contained DNA of the suspect.
Surachet identified Pattra Jamtrakul, owner of The Hive Hostel, as the prime witness, given that the victim and four male friends had stayed at the property.
In a broadcast interview with Thairath, Pattra said the young woman had informed her she was raped but had refused to go to the police at the time.
“I feel sad. I’d attempted to help my customer, but she chose not to file a police report. So I couldn’t do anything. If she had sought my help, I would have helped her to the fullest extent of my ability,” Pattra said.
Pattra said a male friend of the young woman came back to the hostel on July 4 — eight days later — and said he wanted to file a police report on behalf of the alleged victim, because she had left Thailand. Pattra then took him to the Koh Tao police station.
By that time, it was too late to retrieve the CCTV footage from Fish Bowl, as the system only keeps a digital record of seven days, Inn News reported.
In a statement available on the tourist police website, Pattra seems to take pains to paint the alleged victim in an unfavorable light, claiming the young woman had been drunk and depressed over a love entanglement involving one of the young men she had been traveling with, Khaosod reported.
“I think the perpetrator would have been caught in the same day … if her story was true … if she had gone to the police,” Pattra told Thairath.
Surachet claimed he had been unable to reach the woman, then doubled down on the character attack, reiterating the bar owner’s account that she had simply had an affair.
“This morning, I contacted the British Embassy, and they said they couldn’t reach the alleged victim either. After this, I’ll work with the embassy and ask her to come back to Thailand again. I insist that if this was about her losing her control — it wasn’t rape,” he said.
He also threatened to take legal action against well-known Facebook page CSI LA, which played a major role in shedding the light on the 2014 Koh Tao case and has published a statement from the British teen’s family.
“We have not been able to reach the admin of CSI LA, but we’ll see. If they published false information, they’ll be prosecuted under the computer crime laws — because Thailand’s reputation is being damaged,” Surachet told Morning News.
Later at the press conference, he emphasized that those who are responsible in exposing the “false story” will face legal action.
“If the story was not true, the people who make accusations must take responsibility for damaging the reputation of the country.
“If the victim comes to our investigators and hands over the evidence to prove the crime happened and there was an actual rape, we will prosecute the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law.”
Source : Coconuts