Chiangrai Times – Carl Belanger a small-town grocer who lost both of his daughters on a disastrous vacation to Thailand earlier this month has accused Thai authorities of covering up the true circumstances of their deaths.
Mr.Belanger, who made the accusation during an emotional interview with News Agencies in Canada, will bury Noemi, 26, and Audrey, 20, this Saturday.
Official police reports say a maid found the sisters’ bodies in their hotel room 15 June on Phi Phi Island, a popular tourist location south of Bangkok.
The sisters were students at Laval University in Quebec City. They worked at their father’s grocery store in their hometown of Pohenegamook, about 200 km northeast of Quebec City.
Thai officials speculated the women likely died of food poisoning, but the father says the Thai autopsy and then embalming the bodies immediately seemed suspicious.
He told News Agentcies that it took too long to discover the bodies and to examine them, and he said police didn’t keep him informed about their progress.
“The authorities say they found the bodies 12 hours after their death. According to our calculations it was 48 hours,” he said.
Subsequent reports indicated hotel surveillance video showed a man leading the women to a room.
A source says police in Thailand are looking for two Portuguese men who were guests at the hotel, but that both have since left the country.
Despite his grief and frustration, Belanger praised the work of Canadian Embassy officials who he said repatriated his daughters’ bodies quickly.
The bodies were examined at a laboratory in Montreal and have since been given back to the family. Autopsy results have yet to be released.
Belanger admits he had concerns about his daughters’ trip to Thailand and Vietnam despite the fact Noemi was an experienced traveller. He said he expressed his worries to his daughters the last time he contacted them.
“I was dreading Thailand,” he said. “(I told them) they should end that trip.”
He said Noemi had studied in China for three months. She also took a psychology course in Paris and had also travelled to Mexico, England and all across Canada.
The young women spoke with their parents every second day during their trip to Thailand.
“The week of the tragedy, the last contact we had with them was Monday night,” he said. “After that, no more news. My wife kept saying, ‘Carl, this is bothering me.’ Then we received word of their deaths Saturday morning.”
His voice cracking, he read Audrey’s final letter in which she praised her parents.
“First off, we take a moment to thank you for having brought us into this world in Canada, for giving us good values, for giving us the passion to travel, and especially to just for having been our parents. ”
Audrey ended her letter with words of love that have comforted the grieving family.
“I love you very, very much, say hi to the family for us.”
Canadians readers have criticised the police investigation and suggesting Thailand was covering up the facts to protect a “US$4 billion travel industry in South Thailand.
The deaths of the two young travellers preceded the brutal murder of an Australian female travel agent who was stabbed to death outside her hotel on Kata Noi beach on Phuket Island. Two suspects were arrested by police Monday and taken to Phuket where they were charged with murder.