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Corruption, Injustice & Murder Continue to Flourish throughout Surat Thani Province, particularly on Koh Tao

By Ian Yarwood (Australian lawyer) 

It’s business as usual in the Gulf of Thailand.

Foreigners continue to be murdered or die in highly suspicious circumstances but details are covered-up.  It is so common that the mainstream media based in Thailand takes little interest just as they are disinterested in the horrific road toll that the Kingdom is so infamous for.  In addition, criminal defamation laws and the Computer Crimes Act are often used as weapons against journalists and news services that dare to ask too many questions or who publish embarrassing facts about influential people.

Thai nationals enjoy remarkably favourable outcomes in criminal investigations and proceedings compared to the experiences of foreigners.  This is particularly so where the Thais have some powerful connections.

Death of Bernd Grotsch on Koh Tao

It came as little surprise that when German businessman, Bernd Grotsch (47) was found dead in his house on Koh Tao on 17 June 2018, only DER FARANG initially wrote about his unexplained death, followed later by the Samui Times.


It was unremarkable that the mainstream media in Thailand did not cover the story, and apparently did not investigate.

Then in early July 2018, “The Sun” and “The Mirror” of Britain reported on his death as one death of TEN foreigners to die on Koh Tao in recent years.  They were followed by a Belgian news service.

There is little information about Mr Grotsch’s death that is available to the public or his family in Germany.  It appears that the Royal Thai Police only offered vague theories – that perhaps he died of a heart attack or perhaps it was a snake bite that killed him.  At best, such comments betray a tremendously callous indifference to the loss of a human life.  At worst, the comments arouse valid suspicions that yet another murder on Koh Tao (aka Death Island) is being covered-up.

After all, a simple autopsy would easily reveal whether this apparently healthy man died of a heart attack or a snake bite (or poison or something else).  Snake venom in particular has a devastating effect on the tissue of its victims.  A simple examination of the body should make it blindingly obvious whether snake venom killed him. 

Sword attack upon Timothy Claus on Koh Samui 

On 9 May 2016, US man Tim Claus (32) suffered horrendous injuries inflicted by a Thai man wielding a military sword.

The story was reported by the Samui Times but it was another story that was overlooked by the mainstream media in Thailand.  In contrast, it was picked up in Britain.


Despite some horrific and life-changing injuries, Tim’s attacker was held in custody for only about 7 months.

Tim recorded the attack on two YouTube videos:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yChZ3rckLQY


Tim has levelled criticism at the Koh Samui Provincial Court Judge, Pimsasi Chunsawang for the attacker’s lenient treatment but, from my distant location, I do not know whether perhaps the police and/or prosecutor failed to present a more compelling case to her court.  I do note however that Her Honour was one of the three judges who convicted the Burmese men, Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin (fairly obvious scapegoats) for the 2014 murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Koh Tao on the strength of obviously bogus “DNA evidence.”

Burmese Scapegoats framed for Koh Tao Backpacker Murders

In contrast to the lenient treatment that Tim’s Thai attacker received on Koh Samui, two powerless Burmese men were framed and convicted for the 2014 murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller committed on Sairee Beach, Koh Tao.

A Koh Tao family with strong political connections obtained the services of the National Thai Police Chief, Somyot to clear their 22-year-old member of involvement and to frame the two scapegoats.

In more recent times, Somyot has come under scrutiny for receiving a 300 million baht “loan” from a friend who owned a large brothel and was accused of sex trafficking.  Like many top police officers and army officers, Somyot accumulated considerable unexplained wealth while on a relatively modest salary.

Bangkok Post story: https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1407978/ex-police-chief-somyot-borrowed-b300m-from-brothel-owner

During the trial of the Burmese men, Her Honour Pimsasi Chunsawang often left the courtroom while evidence was heard and the other female judge was often asleep while evidence was presented, as was the chief prosecutor.  In Thailand, it is quite common for one of the Thai judges to be absent during part of a trial although this is not common knowledge outside Thailand.

No verbatim recordings of proceedings are made.  Only incomplete summaries of the evidence are recorded by the senior judge.  The procedure is very different to that of Western Courts.

The prosecutor presented evidence in the form of an “Unendorsed Report” from a police laboratory that lacked the correct accreditation to conduct the DNA tests under ISO 17025.  However, he misled the Koh Samui Provincial Court on the status of the police laboratory and thereby secured convictions by submitting (falsely) that the bogus report linked the men’s DNA to the crime scene.

There are many scams in Thailand.  There are: taxi scams; gem scams; jetski hire scams; motorbike hire scams; car hire scams; sick buffalo scams; real estate scams.  The list goes on and on.  However, the biggest scams are slavery, human trafficking and murder.

Anyone who was fooled into thinking that the convictions against Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo made any sense, simply were not paying attention.

Volker Schwartges murdered on Koh Samui

On 20 August 2014, Volker Schwartges (47) was stabbed to death on Koh Samui.  Story in Samui Times:


His Thai attackers were identified but had good connections and were never brought to justice.  They fared even better than the Thai man who attacked Tim Claus with a military sword.

After a three year battle, Volker’s mother gave up on her quest for justice concluding that police and prosecutors had buried the case.

Apologists say “Murders happen everywhere” 

There is no shortage of mindless comments on social media to the effect that murders happen everywhere including London, New York and Berlin so murders in Thailand are no big deal.

However, there are several differences in those jurisdictions.  Firstly, the police in the West invariably strive to solve crimes and investigate causes of death rather than neglect them.  Secondly, I would submit that it would be a great deal more difficult for anyone, however wealthy or influential, to bribe police officers or other officials to drop charges against them.

In the meantime it’s business as usual in the Gulf of Thailand.

It is advisable for Westerners to learn to be skeptical of Thai lies or the stories of travel bloggers and vloggers who only present Thailand as Heaven on Earth.  The truth is that both Heaven and Hell can be found in Thailand.  Anyone who truly believes Thailand is purely Heaven is simply not paying attention.



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