Asia Pacific

Thai police charge local man with murder of Swiss tourist on Phuket

2 minute read

BANGKOK, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Police in Thailand said on Sunday a 27-year-old Thai man had been charged with the murder a Swiss woman who was found dead earlier this week on the resort island of Phuket.

"Police have charged the offender for murder and robbery causing death," Krisana Pattanacharoen, a deputy police spokesman said at a news conference in Phuket.

"The cause of death has yet to be confirmed and autopsy has yet to be released," he said.

The victim, 57-year-old Swiss tourist Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, was visiting Thailand under the new Phuket Sandbox tourist campaign that allows fully vaccinated travellers to enter the island without quarantine as long as they remain on there for two weeks.

The suspect knocked out the tourist and robbed her, having encountered the woman at a waterfall where he had gone to find fruits, Nanthadet Yoinuan, deputy provincial police chief said.

"He found 300 baht ($9) in her bag and used it to buy drugs, drinks and phone repairs," he said.

After he was detained and questioned, the suspect confessed to attacking the victim, Nanthadet said.

Police also took the unusual step of having the suspect call in to the press briefing to make a statement.

The safety of visitors is a sensitive issue for Thailand, as tourism is a key industry, accounting for 12% of GDP in 2019, though it has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

($1 = 33.4500 baht)

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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