Criminal charges filed against news outlet for referring Koh Tao as “Death Island”

BANGKOK – Thai authorities have filed criminal charges against a news site for branding the popular beach destination of Koh Tao as “Death Island” in reports about a string of murky tourist fatalities.

koh tao

Koh Tao’s stature for being a tropical paradise was first defile in 2014 when two British backpackers were brutally killed on one of its white sand beaches.

A series of other foreign tourist deaths have fuelled press coverage about the island’s “dark side”, with claims of local mafia and corrupt police plotting to conceal murders.

The most recent case to raise suspicions was the death of a Belgian woman in April, which the police ruled was a suicide.

Local online outlet Samui Times ran an article a month ago that questioned the police record and referred to Koh Tao as “Death Island”.

The piece rapidly became viral and forced officers to re-examine the case.

But the island authorities are presently suing Samui Times for violating the Computer Crime Act, which outlaws uploading false information on the web.

The tough law, which carries a maximum jail sentence of five years, is frequently used by the authorities and business elite to stop negative reporting in Thailand.

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Koh Tao mayor Chaiyan Thurasakul disclosed to AFP the site is accused for “damaging Koh Tao’s reputation by calling it Death Island”. The charges were recorded on Thursday (July 6) by local district chief Krikkrai Songtanee, who said the report had caused “panicked tourists to cancel their bookings”.

The police will review the charges and choose whether to take the case to prosecutors.

Samui Times, which told AFP it had yet to be contacted about the charges, guarded its reporting in an online post.

“The Samui Times believes that it is in the best interests of any visitor to the island to be aware of the numerous tourist deaths and the fact that many families of those who died on the island are not satisfied with police investigations,” it said.

The English-language newspaper Bangkok Post blasted the lawsuit in a publication, calling the authorities to clear up any misinformation rather than threaten the outlet.

In 2015, another local news site, Phuketwan, closed after running out of cash in its successful bid to overcome a slander suit brought by Thailand’s naval force over its reports on human trafficking.


Scottish dies while training Muay Thai

A Scottish boxer has died in Thailand of suspected heatstroke. Jordan Coe, 20, was discovered dead in a heavy tracksuit and is believed to have been attempting to achieve a specific weight for an expert battle.

scottish boxer

The boxer, from Maddiston, Falkirk, was an expert Muay Thai boxer and trained at a gym in Glasgow before moving to Thailand.

Craig Floan, Coe’s mentor at Glasgow Thai Boxing Academy, said he was discovered dead and that it is believed he died from heatstroke.

“He moved to Thailand to chase his dream of becoming a professional after being with me for three and a half years,” he said.

“We’ve set up a fundraiser for him and I’m now trying to help raise enough money to bring him home.”

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Coe prepared at Carnage Muay Thai Gym in Grangemouth in east Stirlingshire, yet moved to Ubon Ratchathani in southeastern Thailand to pursue his Muay Thai boxing career.

He had been scheduled to battle a Cambodian boxer in the Muang district and was expected to come back to Scotland in the summer to battle at the Glasgow Thai Boxing Academy.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are providing assistance to the family of a British national following his death in Thailand. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”