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An Australian lawyer has taken to YouTube to express his outrage at the number of murders and suspicious deaths in Koh Tao.
Ian Yarwood has been following the case of the two Burmese boys who were accused and convicted of the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in 2014.
‘I made the video because I was absolutely fed up with the way Thai police routinely dismiss obvious murders on Koh Tao as “accidents” or “suicides” and for the way they convicted two Burmese scapegoats using bogus DNA evidence from a laboratory that lacked the correct accreditation and that failed to follow the most basic of procedures in generating the report that convicted the hapless Burmese men. Most recently, the Thai police showed appalling behaviour in the way they immediately discounted some very credible claims from an 18 year old London girl that in June 2018, she was drugged in a Sairee Beach bar, then woke up in a different location having been robbed, raped and left naked from the waist down. To compound matters the police: attacked the credibility of the rape survivor; arrested about a dozen people who shared the story on Facebook; and issued arrest warrants for the administrator of CSI LA Facebook page (Khun Pramuk “David” Anantasin) and the editor of the Samui Times. Everyone needs to shine some very bright lights on what has been happening on Koh Tao and on the police involvement in protecting the criminals there. ‘
“House of the Rising Sun” (sometimes called “Rising Sun Blues”) is a very old folk song of uncertain authorship dating back decades and probably centuries before The Animals recorded a famous version in 1964.
In its various forms, it is a song about demise and is therefore highly appropriate for the island of Koh Tao, Thailand.
TITLE “DEATH ISLAND OF THE SETTING SUN”
There is beauty in a setting sun over the Gulf of Thailand but a setting sun can also be a symbol of the end. Hence, the title and lyrics of this version include a reference to the “setting sun” rather than the “rising sun.”
For several years, expats living near Koh Tao often referred to it as “Murder Island” or “Death Island” or even as “Rape Island.” In a 2017 article in the “Samui Times” about the death of yet another tourist on Koh Tao, there was a passing but accurate observation that it is often called “Death Island.” The international media jumped on that tag and the nickname has now firmly stuck, which upset many people working and living on the island.
Within months, hundreds of island locals (including many expats who grew up in countries with a free press) signed a petition calling upon the editor of the Samui Times to be sued for defamation – of an island!
Thailand has several draconian criminal defamation laws that can see people languish in jail for years for having made statements deemed to be defamatory. In Thailand, “saving face” is more important than truth, especially if the “face” saved belongs to a particularly powerful person, whether a criminal or not.
SOME COMMENTS ON THE LYRICS
Tragically, there’s been a string of rapes and murders on Koh Tao and often naïve young backpackers were the victims. Sometimes they were lured by wonderful marketing from travel agencies or from travel vlogs and/or travel blogs that highlight the beauty of Koh Tao but mislead the tourists by failing to warn of the island’s violent history and present dangers.
In the second verse, there’s a reference to a comment that Luke Miller from the Isle of Wight made just before he was killed on Koh Tao. He had posted on social media that he was “living the dream.”
On 8 January 2016, Luke was found in a hotel swimming pool with multiple head wounds. The next day, one of Luke’s travelling companions Nichola Gissing (who saw the state of his body) wrote on social media: “I wish we had known about all this before we visited Koh Tao. I have a feeling Luke would still be with us. I feel so sad for those poor boys, and I really hope that the law makers see what a mockery people think of their ‘justice’ system! Disgraceful”
The “poor boys” Nichola refers to are the two tiny Burmese scapegoats featured in verse 5 of the song.
Even though Luke had multiple head wounds, the local Thai police dismissed Luke’ death as “an accident” and speculated that he had been drunk and fell or dived off a building and hit his head, even though this explanation was inconsistent with his injuries. Interestingly, Steven Drylie of Koh Tao Rescue said in a text message to the Samui Times that Luke could not have fallen or dived as the police suggested: “unless he bounced of (sic) the bottom of the pool a few times.”
The fourth verse is a reference to the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on 15 September 2015. Initially, Thai police Lt General Panya Mamen made public statements to the effect that he had CCTV footage that cast suspicion on Montriwat (“Mon”) Toowichian (manager of the AC Bar) and “Nomsod” Toowichian (the island headman’s son).
However, Panya was promptly promoted, removed from the case and made no further comments. There were reports that Nomsod’s father had confirmed that Nomsod was on the island on the evening of 14 September 2015 but retracted what he said once told that two young tourists had just been murdered.
Nomsod seemed to have vanished but emerged many days later in Bangkok with an alibi that he had been in Bangkok at the time of the murders. However, it seems that sleuths at the Facebook page named “CSI LA” had managed to pick holes in Nomsod’s alibi.
Here I listed many of the tourists who have perished on Koh Tao in recent years.
I have also referred to the Burmese scapegoats once more. Their names are Zaw Lin (prisoner 590082) and Wai Phyo (prisoner 590018) and they are both on death row in “The Bangkok Hilton”:
Bangkwang Central Prison
117 Nonthaburi Road
I intend to amend their addresses and/or other details if there is any change in their situation. They do appreciate letters and cards from the outside world.
IMAGE OF JUDGES WHO CONVICTED THE SCAPEGOATS
The image largely speaks for itself but the local and international media seldom reported properly on what was actually occurring inside the courtroom. Fortunately, the British lawyer, Lionel Blackman of the Solicitors’ International Human Rights Group did report about a judge dozing and on a prosecutor dozing in this trial that resulted in two young Burmese men being convicted of the murders of Hannah and David and being sentenced to death.
It was also not widely reported that the police laboratory that supposedly produced evidence linking the accused to the crime lacked the appropriate accreditation under ISO 17025 to conduct the tests. The clear indication was that the small Burmese men were framed and that the “evidence” was concocted as a result of scientific fraud.
NOTE TO JOURNALISTS
Some reporting of crime on Koh Tao is good, some is poor and some is ordinary.
I quoted a lecturer in journalism studies as too often journalists have quoted a Thai police spokesman without alerting their audiences that statements from Thai police are often contradictory and/or highly dubious.
The Royal Thai Police Force is generally not liked or trusted by the vast majority of Thai citizens. Why should journalists trust this organization?
I have created other YouTube videos that address some mistakes that journalists have made. Here is a link to the first of them: