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Yet another suspicious death on Koh Tao A.K.A Death Island

Another suspicious death has come to light on Koh Tao, dubbed Death Island after a spate of unexplained tourist deaths over the last five years.

The latest victim is Bernd Grotsch (47) from Ingolstadt who was one of the most well-known foreign business owners in Koh Tao. Grotsch successfully ran a motorbike shop “Lederhosen Bikes” in what were sometimes difficult circumstances, until out of the blue his body was discovered in a house in the jungle near Mae Haad on the 17th of June.

As usual when somebody dies on Koh tao there are more questions than answers as to how and why he died. His family, in Bavaria, have unsuccessfully been pushing for a post mortem. As of today, they have received no autopsy results, only vague explanations and conjectures of possible death by snake bite, (he was known to keep snakes), or heart failure, with no supporting evidence. The family is not willing to accept these hypotheses without concrete medical evidence.

The Thai authorities initially said the body was to be sent to Suratthani, on the mainland, for a post mortem. Instead, the family discovered that his body had been placed in the local temple the day after he had been found. Grotch’s family are now asking, how is it possible, in the span of 24 hours to transport his body to and from the mainland, perform an autopsy and place him in a temple back on Koh Tao. Highly concerned about the circumstances surrounding his death the family demanded that his corpse be sent to Bangkok to undergo and autopsy by Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, the well-known and accredited forensic pathologist who also has the reputation of being non-biased. Instead Grotsch ended up in the Police hospital where all official autopsies from Koh Tao are performed, The Institute of Forensic Medicine Police Hospital, which made International headlines when it performed the autopsies on murder victims Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in 2014 which lead to the arrest and conviction of 2 Burmese workers. Pathologists from both Thailand and Australia harshly criticized the DNA testing done by the hospital at the time. Even Dr. Pornthip, as an official witness during the trial in 2015, was harshly critical of the medical documentation from the Thai Police forensic reports. Virtually wiping the floor with the prosecution’s case. The Witheridge and Miller case has been strongly debated online with articles going viral as the majority of those interested in the case believe the Burmese to be scape goats. Why Dr. Pornthip was not able to perform Grotch’s post mortem remains a mystery to his family in Bavaria. They have simply been informed that the official autopsy will take 30 days to complete and his body will not be released beforehand. Upon receiving this information, his mother, sister and cousin then offered to pay for an independent post mortem and the return of his remains. A request that fell on deaf ears.

Since then Bernd’s cousin Christine along with his sister have been trying to repatriate his body to Germany with no success. They do not trust the Thai authorities because of the strange circumstances surrounding Grotsch’s death.

Grotsch’s estranged wife and daughter currently reside in Ingolstadt. As a Thai citizen his wife is the only one with the legal right to sign any documents relative to the release and repatriation of Grotsch’s remains. She is reluctant to do so. Her hesitation and thus far refusal to sign has caused arguments between Grotch’s family. The discord lead his cousin, Christin, to abduct the daughter over the weekend. They have not been seen since and local child welfare services are now involved. What happens next in the case of Bernd Grotsch is anybody’s guess. The repatriation of his remains is dependant in the Thai officials release of his body which, will take at least another 20 days. Whether it then makes sense for a further investigation by Dr. Pornthip remains uncertain, even in the minds of his relatives. The family will probably never know the whole truth. In the end they fear that his remains will be quietly cremated and that will be the end of the matter for Thai officials. The cause of his death forever remaining a mystery. An uncertainty that his family will have to come to terms with and learn to live with according to his cousin.

The said truth is they are certainly not the only family who have had to face hard facts that the truth may never surface. The families of Hannah Witheridge, Ben Harrington, Nick Pearson, Luke Miller, Christina Annesley, Valentina Novozhyonova (missing) and Elise Dellamange, all killed on Koh Tao since 2012, do not believe the Thai investigations and have all had problems with autopsies and repatriation of the bodies of their loved ones, so much so they have petitioned the government in the UK to look into the deaths. The deaths of Hans Peter Suter, Dimitri Povse and Jean Francois Lovet, in the same time period, are also highly suspicious.


The truth we do know is that Bernd was healthy, a motocross maniac and loving his life, he just started new business on Koh Phayam close to Ranong because he had enough of Koh Tao. He left Koh Tao one and a half years ago and simply went back to tie up loose ends. He never made it off the island alive. He leaves behind land and bikes worth many millions and a family in desperate search of the truth. Once again authorities have not respected the requests of the European families when they want to decide themselves how to have the case investigated. In the end they always do it their own way behind closed doors, and then wonder why people speculate as to why!







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