TRAT – Five Cambodian fisherman have confessed to the assault and raping of French tourists on an isolated Thai beach, Cambodia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Thai police said four French tourists were attacked late on Saturday on Koh Kut, a remote island near Thailand’s maritime border with Cambodia known for its untamed jungle and pristine beaches.
Thai police investigators said the attackers swam from their fishing boat to assault the group and raped two women at knifepoint. They were caught while trying to escape.
Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the five fishermen confessed to the Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand, that they raped and assaulted the tourists.
“During the interview with the Cambodian ambassador the five fishermen confessed to have really been involved in the cases of rape and assault,” the ministry said in a statement.
“It happened while the five fishermen were in a drunk state, the five have been charged with rape and violent assault.
Investigators are confident they have a strong case, citing 51 pieces of collected forensic evidence to back up the victims’ positive identification.
The Bangkok Post Reported that Pol Maj Gen Nopparat said the Cambodian sailors swam ashore from their anchored fishing boat to buy more alcohol and drink before they came across the four tourists: Thomas Buiron, 30, Rene Edbri Ronain, 29, and the two women ages 57 and 28.
They had carried a butcher’s knife with them to open coconuts and police said it was that blade that was used in the attack.
Pol Maj Gen Nopparat said the Justice Ministry and The Tourism and Sports Ministry would help in the medical fees and the legal proceedings for the French tourists.
Police and local officials plan to hold talks with the community to prevent a repeat of the incident and ensure all tourist attractions and islands in Trat are safe for visitors, the provincial police chief added.
It is the latest high-profile case to hit the popular holiday destination, raising serious questions about tourist safety in the Southeast Asian country.
In December, two migrant workers from Myanmar were found guilty by a Thai court of killing two British tourists on a beach on the southern Thai holiday island of Koh Tao in 2014.
Thailand remains a popular tourist destination, despite a slew of high-profile crimes against tourists last year and an August bomb attack at a popular Bangkok shrine that left 20 people dead, most of them foreigners.
The government expects a record 32 million people to visit Thailand this year. Tourism remains one of the few bright spots in the Thai economy which has struggled since a 2014 coup by the military.
By Prak Chan Thul and Amy Sawitta Lefevre – Reuters
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