BANGKOK -26 year-old Jake Mastroianni an Australian DJ facing two life jail sentences in Thailand for possession of 61 tablets of ecstasy has been transferred to Bangkwan prison aka the Bangkok Hilton where prisoners on death row are also held.
Lawyers for Mastroianni, said efforts to have him transferred to an Australian jail have not been fruitful, with a judge also rejecting an appeal to reduce his sentence last year.
Lawyer Nathan Feeney said he was surprised by Mastroianni’s recent transfer to the notorious Bangkwan prison, also known as the Bangkok Hilton, located on the outskirts of Bangkok. The jail houses 7,000 inmates, of which around 700 are on death row.
Up to 50 people can be kept in cramped cells, sanitary conditions are shocking and the meagre diet consists of one bowl of rice per day – which is often rotting.
Prisoners are made to wear leg irons for the first three months, after which they are unshackled.
The jail runs a system whereby inmates can buy more food if they have the money to do so. Poorer prisoners can do chores for guards or wealthier convicts to earn cash.
“The move was unexpected because everyone who we spoke to at the prison where he was – Klong Prem – said that he would not be moved anytime soon,” lawyer Nathan Feeney told AAP.
Mastroianni was arrested in August 2014 in Pattaya, 150 kilometres from Bangkok, where he worked as a DJ at the Sapphire Club, along with 28-year-old Briton Lance Whitmore.
Whitmore was charged with possessing 200 pills, while a search of Mastroianni’s girlfriend’s apartment uncovered a further 61 tablets. Both men were charged with acting as a criminal organisation. Mastroianni received two life terms after pleading not guilty.
Hopes of his sentence being reduced dwindled when a Thai court rejected his appeal in September. “Currently we don’t think Mastroianni will receive any reduction. We are hoping that is not the case. But at this point we don’t expect him to receive any reduction in sentence from the amnesty,” he said.
Mr Feeney said authorities have not provided a reason for the Australian’s transfer to Bang Kwan, also referred to as the “Bangkok Hilton”. The Department of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, as well as the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s Office and Thai Department of Corrections are in discussions about his transfer to Australia.
“We will be drafting letters to His Majesty the King (Vajiralongkorn) for certain reductions,” Mastroianni’s lawyer said. “(But) it’s going to be a long process to get him transferred in under eight years,” he added.
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