Phuket Gazette - Bizarre Murder Report "Frogman Fracas"
THE PHUKET GAZETTE
The Phuket Gazette is the local English language newspaper for Phuket Thailand. The paper was established in 1993 by American John Magee. The paper is partially owned by and has a partnership agreement with The Nation, another large English Newspaper in Thailand. The Phuket Gazette is the main source of news and information for residents of the Island of Phuket. They have a TV station, online classifieds, yellow pages and they offer a wide variety of advertising options for local businesses. The Phuket Gazette has a reputation for reporting non factual information and misrepresenting the facts. It seems as though they do not make any attempt to verify information before they go to print, often resulting in stories being printed with a reckless lack of integrity and no regard for the truth. Below is an example of a news report in the Phuket Gazette that contains errors, misleading information and details of events that are not correct and may not have happened at all.
HEADLINE : Frogman killed in Kata Bay fracas Friday, January 11, 2008
This is one of those stories you read, and you just say to yourself "no way"! Surely there must be more to the story? The story describes a Swiss tourist who is entertaining a young Thai girl on his yacht late at night, and suddenly they see a man swimming near the boat in the dark, hundreds of meters from shore. So of course they invite the chap aboard for a drink, and they spend the next hour engaging in a good chat. Meanwhile, while the Swiss man is entertaining this young Thai girl on his yacht, his wife and their children are staying on a nearby Island. After about an hour of drinking beer, the swimmer announces that he must leave, and at this point he attempts to rob the couple with a home made gun. The Swiss man is shot in the fracas, however he managed to slash the would be robber with a boat hook. The midnight swimming bandit later died from loss of blood due to the injuries sustained in the fracas. Then the young Thai lady friend alerted police who arrived on the scene (500 meters offshore from The Club Med Resort in Kata) in a long tail boat. The apparent attackers body is later found just 70 meters from the boat but could not be identified.
Read the story as it appears in the Phuket Gazette ; http://www.phuketgazette.net/archives/articles/2008/article6214.html
QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ASKED
The location of the boat: It is certainly not normal for a boat to be anchored off Kata Beach for any period of time as there is no pier and it is not a convenient location, with unprotected waters and no place to get on and off the boat. Later reports indicate that the crime actually took place at the Chalong Pier, a much more likely place for a yacht to be located.
How did the swimmer get aboard?: Does it really make sense that anyone would invite aboard a strange man swimming near thier boat in the late hours of the night? How could it possibly happen that way? It was apparently 10:30PM, anyone swimming around your boat at that time of night has got to seem suspicious. I could not imagine how anyone would invite the guy aboard for a drink, especially if you are entertaining a woman half your age while your wife is away on a nearby island with the kids.
Where was the owner of the vessel from?: The Phuket Gazette reported that the owner of the yacht (Pierre Alain Oberson) was Swiss, yet later reports seem to have identified him as being from New Zealand. This was never really clearly reported, but perhaps he was Swiss and had immigrated to New Zealand?
Who is the young Thai lady?: Identified as 25-year-old Trat native Porntip Pradit. Her age seems to change depending on where you read the report, most accounts have her being a few years younger. How did she know Mr. Oberson, and even more important, did she have a relationship with the attacker?
What was going on with his wife and kids?: Entertaining a Thai girl half your age on your yacht while your wife and children are staying on a nearby Island is not a crime, but it does seem to be something that needs to be explained when there is a dead man floating near your boat after a fracas!
The love triangle: Perhaps both men were seeing K. Porntip and there was some jealousy? Maybe the alledged attacker was K. Porntip's long time boyfriend.
The inside job: Perhaps K. Porntip and the alledged attacker were working together with the intention of robbing the 50 year old Oberson.
Business deal gone bad: Perhaps the whole robbery was staged in order to kill a man who was well known to Oberson.
It has been 3 years since the events of this crime took place, and many of the details remain unexplained. Perhaps the possible scenarios above are not very realistic, but then again the account of the events as reported by the Phuket Gazette do not seem very realistic either. The corrupt local police in Phuket (Chalong in particular) do not spend too much time investigating these types of things. In fact, the story of a heroic yacht owner killing off a would be attacker is a perfect fit for them, it is far better than any other alternative. They would not want to dig up anything more sinister that would not reflect well on the local tourism industry. I believe that there is much more to this story that we will never know, and I am not alone. Below are links to various discussion boards where local expats are questioning the reports of this story.