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The brother of an American man found dead in a Hua Hin hotel room say he was murdered, and did not die of natural causes, as claimed by the authorities.
At the time, a friend told how he had seen Mr Hughes the day before he went missing and described the American as being “very much not himself”.
Mr Hughes was officially reported missing on August 5.
He was body was later discovered in a Hua Hin hotel room on September 6.
Where Mr Hughes was or who had contact with during that time remains a mystery.
Thai authorities officially ruled that James had died from a heart attack.
An official autopsy ruled his death was the result of “failed respiration and blood circulation”.
Police found no sign of forced entry into the hotel room and were happy to put James’s death down to natural causes.
However, when James’s brother David, who lives in New York, received the autopsy report he saw it detailed other injuries, including contusion, tear and avulsion wounds. James also suffered internal bleeding on his head.
“He was beaten badly and I am sure he died from these injuries, definitely,” David told the Bangkok Post, which features at length the family’s concerns that a cover up has taken place.
However, police said they did not investigate the incident further as they did not suspect a homicide had taken place.
The Bangkok Post reports that after James was reported missing, evidence that he was still alive, in the form of CCTV footage showing him using a Kasikorn ATM was sent to WUT but seemingly not acted upon.
Furthermore, it is also reported that a friend of James, Donald Johnson, obtained morgue photographs of his body.
However, Mr Johnson told the Bangkok Post that he was forced to sign a letter that warned he would face serious consequences if the photographs or information about James’s death was made public.
The letter asked Mr Johnson to: “cease and desist from showing, displaying or otherwise making public or available to other people photographs of the deceased James Hughes”.
Mr Johnson was also prohibited from: “discussing, describing or in any other way representing the contents of the photos to others”.
He was also asked to list the names of people who have may seen the photos.
The Bangkok Post, which claims to have seen the photos, says they appear to show that James was beaten prior to his death, suffering two two black eyes, a bruised forehead and a cut across his nose.
David Hughes claimed that his brother’s death was covered up to protect both the university where James worked and the tourism industry in Hua Hin.
He made comparisons to the brutal beating of a British family in Hua Hin in April which despite the seriousness of the crime was barely covered in Thai news before being exposed by Thaivisa.
“I feel very violated, very f**ked over, by the higher-ups, and all for saving the reputation of a country’s government and for tourism’s sake … and maybe even to save a few personal reputations here and there,” said David Hughes.
The report by the Bangkok Post goes into much more detail. Read it here.