SURAT THANI – The chief of provincial police on Monday advised a young British woman whose story of being raped on Koh Tao appeared in a London Daily Sun newspaper to return and file a rape complaint herself, while police investigate.
Pol Maj Gen Apichart Boonsriroj on Monday visited the places mentioned in the report by The Sun that the 19-year-old backpacker was drugged, raped and robbed on Koh Tao on June 25, and heard accounts from local people and police.
At Sairee beach, where the alleged assault occurred, .Pol Maj Gen Apichart met the owner of the hostel where the girl had stayed.
Hostel owner Phatra Jaemtrakul, 32, said the young woman reserved a room from June 21 to 23 and later extended her stay to June 26. She stayed with five men.
The girl had arranged to meet her at the Fish Bowl Bar at 11pm on June 25, but did not show up. The following morning she had told her she was drugged, raped and robbed on the beach.
Ms Phatra said she urged her to file a complaint with local police right away, but she did not do so, saying she had to rush to Koh Phangan to meet her boyfriend, who had arrived there for a full moon party.
“On July 4 her male friend showed up to ask me if he could file the complaint on the girl’s behalf. I took him to the Koh Tao police station, but police said they could not accept the complaint without the presence of the woman herself,” Miss Phatra said.
She also said that the male friend had a fight with the girl’s boyfriend on Koh Phangan on the night of June 26.
On Koh Phangan, Pol Maj Gen Apichart was told that the girl and the male friend arrived at Koh Phangan police station to file a complaint about lost valuables. They were told they had to file the complaint at Koh Tao, which was where the alleged theft occurred.
The two foreigners asked Koh Phangan police to just accept the complaint, saying that she needed only a complaint acceptance document to claim compensation from an insurance firm. The male friend did most of the talking on behalf of the British girl, Pol Capt Krisada Thongsakul, deputy interrogative inspector of Koh Tao, told Pol Maj Gen Apichart.
Pol Maj Gen Apichart said their complaint to Koh Phangan police was only about lost valuables, and did not mention a rape. They informed police she lost a mobile phone, 3,000 baht in cash and a debit card.
The Surat Thani police chief said the British woman should return to personally file the rape complaint, and by law she must do it within three months of the alleged crime.
In the meantime, police would investigate the matter, he said. They would find out whom she stayed with on Koh Phangan, and what happened there.
Oldest available recordings from local surveillance cameras were of June 28. Previous recordings were overwritten, the provincial police chief said.
In the past four years there had not been any untoward incidents against tourists, but there had been many false accusations which had a negative impact on tourism, Pol Maj Gen Apichart said.
National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said in Bangkok on Monday that Surat Thani police would conclude their case investigation in a week.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said authorities could do nothing if the damaged party did not file a rape complaint.
Asked about influential figures on the island, he said he was certain they had all been suppressed. “I’m sure there are no mafia on Koh Tao right now.”
Police chief Chakthip Chaijinda asked for time and patience. “Surat Thani police have set up a panel to look into the facts in this case and results are expected in seven days.”
He had also assigned deputy tourist police chief Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn and forensic police to go to Koh Tao.
“If more evidence is found, things will clear up. I won’t tolerate vagueness. If police were in the wrong, I’ll take action,” Pol Gen Chakthip said.
By Supapong Chaolan