HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Pattaya Festival begins with message from above

First arrest made in Rasmussen case

Hardo Kerz receives life sentence

Pattaya Police implicated in another scandal

City meets to handle “foreign mafia”

Crocs and Ostriches featured

Pattaya Festival begins with message from above

Precision paratrooper Nongnooch Boonlorm, a member of the Royal Thai Navy’s elite parachute squad, descended from the heavens to deliver the proclamation officially opening Pattaya Festival 1998.

Nongnooch was part of the navy team selected to jump from 8,000 feet in a demonstration of parachuting highlighted the opening of the event. As her comrades landed safely on skills, which the beach away from the Nongnooch landed perfectly on her designated spot in the crowd, middle of the proceedings.

Photo: Her Serene Highness Mom Chao Phansawali Kitiyakorn gave an '8,000 foot jump' award to parachutist Nongnooch Boonlorm after she descended from the heavans to hand deliver the proclamation officially opening Pattaya Festival 1998.

She then hand delivered the Official Proclamation to get the fun underway.

Her Serene Highness Mom Chao Phansawali Kitiyakorn gave her an ‘8,000 foot jump’ award to commemorate her successful achievement.

Her Serene Highness then gave a perfectly succinct and to the point opening address at the event.

Back to News Headline Index

First arrest made in Rasmussen case

Ms. Orathai Nonsiri, accused of embezzling 3.6 million baht from Danish citizen Bjorn Rasmussen (PM, vol. VI, No. 15, 10/4/98), was tracked down and arrested last week at her Din Daeng home in Bangkok.

Ms. Orathai, allegedly acting in collusion with Pattaya Police, had told Rasmussen she would assist him to get out of jail, a feat she told him would cost a considerable sum of money. She then cleaned out his bank account, taking home approximately 3.6 million baht, while Rasmussen continued to languish in prison last year for an offense he has repeatedly stated he did not commit.

After his eventual release, the desperate Rasmussen filed two complaints with Tourist Police on April 7, 1998. One was of mistreatment by the Pattaya Police, the other against Ms. Orathai.

In his complaint, Rasmussen stated that Pattaya Police had taken no action against Orathai and appeared uninterested in the matter. Rasmussen also complained that he was arrested under suspicious circumstances on trumped-up charges.

The case has recently received international attention and caused an embarrassment to Pattaya City.

Tourist Police took Rasmussen to the Din Daeng area of Bangkok on the 8th of April, where Rasmussen was able to identify Orathai sitting in front of her house.

Orathai attempted to escape into her house, but had locked doors behind her. She created a scene, screaming to neighbors for help, claiming the officers were not really police. The Tourist Police received help from the Din Daeng Police in subduing Orathai.

Orathai, desperate, told Tourist Police officers, "I’ll pay you double what the Farang has offered."

Officers took Orathai to the Din Daeng police station, filed the proper reports and remanded her into custody of the Tourist Police. She was later brought to Chonburi and ignominiously incarcerated.

Rasmussen told reporters, "It has been a year now, and the case has not progressed. The woman has never shown up in court, pleading illness. I complained to the Pattaya Mail, they then took me to the Pattaya Tourist Police, who arrested the women in less than two days. I am really impressed with the job the officers did. I hope the case will come to court quickly."

The Banglamung District Officer and Pattaya’s Mayor have shown their interest in this case and are now involved. They promised to take the matter seriously, stating that if anyone is found guilty, they will be punished according to the law, no matter who that person is.

Back to News Headline Index

Hardo Kerz receives life sentence

Twenty-nine year old Estonian Hardo Kerz was found guilty of premeditated murder by the Chonburi provincial court last week for his slaying of Pattaya bar owner Konstantine Povoloski on March 31.

Photo: Hard Kerz has been convicted of premeditated murder in the slaying of Konstantine Povoloski in Pattaya March 31st. Kerz was sentenced to death but had his sentence commuted to life in prison after he confessed to the crime.

After just one day of deliberations, the court found Kerz guilty and initially sentenced him to death, but commuted the sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds that he had confessed.

Kerz was indicted on Thursday, April 9th, and the court spent much of the day considering his case before reaching its verdict that evening. Kerz was arrested April 4th at Don Muang Airport.

Police also stated that another Russian, Vladimir Bechetov, 35, who is on wanted lists in many countries, is suspected of masterminding the murder. Bechetov fled the kingdom on a flight to Poland before Interpol was able to arrest him.

With this case coming to light, police now believe the Russian mafia is beginning to establish itself in Pattaya. Pattaya Police have received reports that Russian gangs have been demanding protection money from Russian nationals with businesses in Pattaya. Other Russian gang activities include prostitution, extortion, executions and drugs.

Police said they are tracing links between the gang-style slaying and Russian crime syndicates believed to be operating in Thailand. Piraphan Premputi, a police deputy chief for external affairs, said Russian police agencies had provided Thai police with a list of about 90 names of suspected mobsters who could be heading for Thailand.

Back to News Headline Index

Pattaya Police implicated in another scandal

Tourist Police were again contacted last week to try to settle alleged misconduct by Pattaya’s city police against a foreigner.

American Peter Guasta and his wife Chalia Jaemjan filed a complaint with Police Lt. Kriangkrai, Deputy Chief of the Tourist Police, on Sunday, April 12th, claiming that city police had already taken 50,000 baht from the family and were attempting to get another 30,000 baht to settle a case over the alleged illegal possession of a firearm.

The weapon in question, a 9mm Smith & Wesson, was purchased by the family from a city police officer known to them. The family had already received a permit from the Banglamung District Office to carry a .38 (a weapon they have yet to purchase), and were in the process of obtaining a license for the 9mm when officers arrived at their house at 6 a.m. on March 20th with a search warrant to look for the weapon.

Not knowing what the city police were searching for, and after police had searched their house for an hour and a half, Peter asked what they were after. When told they were looking for his gun, Peter immediately produced it from his safe.

Photo: Peter, Chalia and their 4-year-old daughter file a misconduct complaint with the Tourist Police against Pattaya's city police.

Chalia was then arrested and charged with possession of a firearm without a license.

"I had to pay 50,000 Baht to bail her out," Peter stated. "Since then I have not heard anything from the police. But later on, through my lawyer, I received an offer that the police would close the case if I would pay them a sum of 30,000 Baht in return, which I replied no."

The family had been advised to purchase the weapon after armed robbers had broke into their house and stole approximately 1 million baht in cash and valuables from their safe on New Year’s Eve this year. The robbers held Peter, Chalia and their 4 year-old daughter at gunpoint during the robbery.

The family purchased the 9mm on the 3rd of March 1998. They then went to the Banglamung District Office to apply for a license for the weapon, and were told that it would take approx. 3 weeks.

Four days after police arrived with their search warrant, the family received the permit.

"I believe it is a set up," Peter continued. " I received the permit for the gun 4 days after the incident (24 March 98). I don’t want to go against the cops but what do you expect me to do now? We live a peaceful life and intend to continue to do so. I am now 55 years old and I don’t really wish for any more adventure in my and my family’s life."

The question that remains is how did the officers know that the family had a gun? Police are supposed to serve and protect, yet with the recent spate of incidents like this coming to light, what kind of message are the police sending to the citizens? Corruption is not good on any level.

Back to News Headline Index

City meets to handle “foreign mafia”

Pattaya Mayor Pairat Suthithamrongsawat, Banglamung District Chief Prasert Thanasethakorn, and members of the Pattaya Police and Tourist Police met last week to discuss problems raised by the foreign mafia’s presence in Pattaya.

The meeting was in response to the recent Russian Mafia war in Pattaya. This gang-land style execution received wide coverage from the Thai and foreign media. The city administrators were, as ever, worried about the deleterious effects this would have on tourism.

The mayor told the group that there were many organised crime groups of many nationalities in the city. There have been rumours that the Ministry of the Interior has plans to do a ‘crime clean up’ similar to last year’s, in which commandos blanketed the city.

This had a truly adverse effect on Pattaya’s tourism and city officials do not want another such ‘clean up’.

The city, ever watchful, has investigated the various organised crime groups in the city and now has a clear picture of who they are. There will be a meeting of law enforcement organisations from Pattaya, Banglamung, the Pattaya Tourist Police, and other groups to form strategy on April 21.

Following last week’s meeting, the group held a press conference to answer the media’s queries on the subject. One member of the press asked why the Police Department used loopholes in the law to extort money out of Danish national Bjorn Rassmussen. The reporter went on to say that at least one form of mafia in Pattaya would be relatively easy to eradicate - ‘uniformed Mafia’ - i.e., the police themselves.

Banglamung District Chief Prasert told reporters that, as usual, a committee would be set up to determine the offending officer’(s) guilt. If clear charges could be brought against them, they would be prosecuted. If not, they would, as usual, be moved to an ‘inactive post’.

Back to News Headline Index

Crocs and Ostriches featured at Khao Kheow Zoo

The Khao Kheow Zoo recently opened its salt-water crocodile pond. The zoo will be breeding the killer crocs, which are the largest in the world. The zoo is also giving lessons in Ostrich riding. The kids might get a real kick out of this.

The salt water crocodile, (Crocodilius Porosus) is the largest and slowest to mature of all the saurian species. These walking handbags with fangs often grow to a length of 6 metres and weigh a thousand kilograms, and that’s no crock!

Known for its ferocious disposition, attacks on human beings who wander into its habitat are not uncommon. The crocodile considers every form of life to be food. This is not unlike the attitude of human beings.

Mr. Siang Koythong gave 3 crocodiles to the zoo as a gift. The largest of the toothy fellows is 40 years old, 4.13 metres long and weighs 1,140 kilograms.

The much prettier but just as dangerous Ostriches came from Africa and now number 30 birds. Ostriches have razor sharp toenails and legs capable of delivering a kick more powerful than a mule’s. Many of the careless have been disemboweled by these lushly plumed avians with the beautiful eyes. The birds are champion sprinters and can attain a speed of 85 kilometres per hour. The average height is 8 feet and they weigh in at 85 kilograms.

One may ride these feathered steeds at the zoo. The fee is 10 baht for children and 20 for adults.

The crocodiles and Ostriches will have an area of 100 rai in which to play and multiply. The crocodiles will be closely supervised.

The old and new residents of the zoo will provide everyone with a great opportunity to learn.

Back to News Headline Index

Copyright 1998 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand 
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]
Created by Andy Gombaz, assisted by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek.