CHIANGMAI – 93-year-old Australian Karl Joseph Kraus accused of raping four young Thai sisters in one of the worst child sex abuse cases investigated in Thailand is likely never to face justice.
Mr Kraus, a former railway worker from Sydney, wants a court to drop the charges because he says he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer.
“I’ll be dead,” Mr Kraus told Fairfax Media from a court cell in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.
“Nobody helps me. This is terrible … they put me in jail when I was sick,” he said.
“I can’t walk but they still put me in prison.”
A lawyer acting for Mr Kraus is gathering evidence from doctors, which he says will lead to Chiang Mai court dismissing the charges on the basis his client is unfit to stand trial.
Mr Kraus, who attempted to flee to Burma last year, could be free by March 18, by when the court has agreed to examine his medical records. If convicted of the offences, Mr Kraus would face up to 20 years’ jail.
Brought from jail to the court on Monday, Mr Kraus complained that “nobody helps me” and “I done nothing wrong.” “I don’t know what to do,” he said.
But during his time at the court several people helped him, including two officials from the Australian embassy who brought him fresh muffins and juice.
Several jail inmates who were at the court for their own cases also helped Mr Kraus from a prison van and pushed him in a wheelchair into court, where he complained his lawyer was a “fake” and where he complained the Australian officials were not doing enough for him.
“The German embassy can find a good lawyer to help me,” said Mr Kraus, who was born in Berlin but has been an Australian citizen for decades.
Police allege one of four under-age sisters Mr Kraus lured to a house with promises of imported chocolates and English lessons was only five when the abuse began.
Police allege they seized more than 100 photographs of naked children, including some with Mr Kraus posing with them.
Police say Mr Kraus gave his young victims money. They also allege he emailed some obscene pictures overseas, suggesting he was part of an international paedophilia network.
The girl’s parents told police they suspected abuses were occurring when the girls lost interest playing outside.
Despite the seriousness of the charges Mr Kraus was granted bail of $12,900 after he was arrested in 2010.
While on bail he appeared spritely and drove a car around Chiang Mai while making allegations he was denied medical care and that Thai officials had offered bribes to free him.
No evidence was presented to back up the claims.
In August last year Mr Kraus crossed the Thai border and illegally entered Burma where he later told police he hoped to be arrested and deported to Australia.
But instead Burmese police and officials escorted back across the border into the hands of Thai police who saw that his bail was revoked in Thailand and that he went to jail.
Mr Kraus has frequently stayed for long periods in Chiang Mai, a city popular with foreign tourists.