June 30, 2017 / 6:28 AM / 2 years ago

Thai police probe Belgian tourist's 'suicide' amid online doubts

FILE PHOTO : Tourists enjoy on a beach at the island of Koh Tao, Surat Thani Province, Thailand, September 19, 2014. Picture taken September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai police said on Friday they were re-opening an investigation into the death in April of a Belgian tourist which was ruled a suicide at the time after online posts voiced concern that she may have been murdered.

The body of Elise Dallemange, 30, was found in a jungle on Koh Tao island, where British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were murdered on a beach in 2014.

Police said Witheridge, 23, had been raped and bludgeoned to death and Miller 24, had suffered blows to his head.

Thailand, famous for its beaches and cultural sites, is a regional tourist magnate and the tourism industry is a major income generator.

Posts on social media this week said Dallemange had booked a ticket to Chumphon province, on the mainland, and that her luggage arrived after her death, implying that she had not intended to kill herself.

“Police continue to look for new evidence, because it was an unnatural death, but we have not found any,” Police Colonel Preecha Kladsawad, deputy of Surat Thani police, said.

The 2014 murders of the British backpackers prompted some local and foreign media to brand Koh Tao “murder island”.

Two migrant workers from Myanmar were arrested and sentenced to death after they were convicted of the crime in December 2015 - a move criticized by rights groups who say they were wrongfully convicted.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Nick Macfie

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