PNOMH PENH – 53 years-old Norwegian Mack London escaped from Thailand to Cambodia, because the Norwegian Embassy would not issue him with an emergency passport, Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has reported.
Norwegian citizen Mack London who left Norway in 2005 has lived in Thailand the past years, where he has worked with real estate and also became the father of two children.
After a while Mack London ended in a brawl with a developer in Thailand, and later on in a conflict with the local police authorities. Eventually London was accused of embezzlement. According to police he was to meet at a hearing in Phetchaburi south of Bangkok on 1 August.
Instead of showing up, London illegally crossed the border to Cambodia, where he has spent the last two months. London stated, that he had to pay 20.000 Norwegian kroner in bribes to cross the border. Via Skype from a hotel room in Pnomh Penh, the capital of Cambodia, London claims his innocence.
“I have not done anything wrong, instead I am being cheated out of millions of kroner,” he Said
The reason why he left Thailand is that he needed medical treatment, and was afraid to end up in jail in Thailand.
After Mack London did not show up for the hearing on 1 August, an order for his arrest was issued by the Thai authorities. Furthermore London was told to show up in the court again on 1 October. Now that he did not show up this week the new message to him is that he will have to show up on 12 December.
According to the Norwegian Embassy in Thailand, London has been banned departure from Thailand the last two years.
London told Aftenposten that he paid the smugglers to get a valid entry permit in Camboda, so he could continue his journey. But he did not get that, instead he claims that the smugglers who were going to help him, lost his passport.
The embassy in Thailand doubts in a letter to London, if he actually lost the passport, because he would end up having problems leaving the country without a valid stamp. The embassy also did not want to give London an emergency passport, because he is wanted by the police in Thailand.
Asked by Aftenposten, if he thinks the smugglers stole his passport, London replies:
“They claim that they have lost it,” he says and declines that he should be the one not telling the truth.
In an account in Norway, Mack London claims to have money enough to pay a flight ticket back home.
“But now I have only 350 dollars left, which is enough to live one week here. In the worst case if I do not get an emergency passport from the embassy or obtain more money, I will end up on the street,” he said to Aftenposten.
According to London himself he is seriously ill and scared what will happen to him if he does not receive proper treatment soon.
The case has been taken to department level in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because it is a matter of principle. The main reason why the Norwegian embassy declined the first application for emergency passport was due to a paragraph in the passport law, which prohibits the embassy from issuing a passport to persons who are wanted by the police.
The embassy maintained its decision after London complained. In addition they wrote that there were other “weighty considerations” why London should not get the passport.
The embassy refers to the fact that they depend on a good relationship with the authorities in Thailand and they “cannot put themselves in a situation where they help Norwegians who break the law of the country to run away from their responsibility.”
They also do not want the case to set a precedent.
But the Norwegian Police Directorate, which is the appellate authority in such matters, does not agree with the embassy. In a letter they wrote that the embassy declined London’s passport application on a wrong basis
That is because the embassy’s decision refers to a letter from the department of justice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where it appears that the warrant, which the embassy is referring to, can not be used to decline an emergency passport, alone because a Norwegian is wanted by foreign authorities.
The police did not reverse the decision, but they say that the embassy must consider the application to London for an emergency passport again.
The embassy has now contacted the Ministry of foreign affairs, because they believe that the police directorate’s conclusion is not in keeping with the embassy’s “Guidelines for passports”. According the embassy the law says that: “In case of prosecution abroad, passports can not be issued without consent of the applicable governments,”
The Police Directorate said to Aftenposten, that they on 8 April this year sent out a letter to police districts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with guidelines for issuing emergency passports. They also confirm that the police directorate has the authority to overturn a refusal from the embassy, and in that case the embassy is committed to issue emergency passports.
The Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok will “look at the issue again in the near future” according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry to Aftenposten.
Aftenposten gained access to the relevant documents in the case, and in addition London has given the Norwegian Newspaper an authorization to have access to the information which the Norwegian authorities have in the case.
Meanwhile, Mack London is still sitting in Cambodia without the possibility to go to Norway or Thailand for that matter. London told Aftenposten that he heard from the hearing on 1 August, that a judge should have stated that London probably would not be jailed.
“In hindsight I should probably have stayed there,” London admits.
His lawyer Ron Mulstad, also confirms to Aftenposten, that London would probably have avoided jail, if he had shown up in first case. Now London can meet up on 12 December, and he tells Aftenposten, that he has received signals that he is likely to avoid jail if he pays his way out. Whether London will meet up in the court depends on his health conditions and if he can make his way back to Norway, he tells Aftenposten. – by Sine Neuchs Thomsen
Source translated from Aftenposten : (only in Norwegian)