Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered authorities to expedite the investigation into the case of the Swiss government official who was found dead, possibly raped and murdered, in a Phuket cove after entering Thailand as part of the new program to reopen the island’s âsandboxâ.
Thai National Police Chief Suwat Jangyodsuk has visited Phuket and is currently investigating the case with detectives from the Crime Suppression Division.
Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, 57, entered Thailand on July 13 as part of the âPhuket Sandboxâ reopening program and traveled alone. Thai media say she is deputy chief of protocol of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, while Swiss media reported her as a member of the country’s diplomatic service.
She was found in a cove near the Ao Yon waterfall just an 18-minute walk from her hotel. Her body was lying on her stomach and she was wearing only a T-shirt and jacket. A black sheet covered his body. His denim shorts, underwear and shoes were found nearby.
Officers suspect the woman was raped and murdered, but there were no visible injuries to the body and police are still awaiting preliminary results from an autopsy. The Phuket Regional Police Commander told local MCOT TV that it appeared the woman had died several days ago (some reports estimate up to 3 days).
“From what we saw at the scene, the body was covered with a black sheet, which suggests that it was done by someone and that she did not die of natural causes.”
PM calls for the safety of tourists in the “sandbox”
The case comes a month after the reopening of Phuket to overseas travelers, vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the âSandboxâ model. The reopening program, which was launched on July 1, has been seen as a lifeline for the island’s tourism dependent economy and serves as a pilot program for planned reopenings of other tourist destinations after more than a year of stopping international tourism.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the prime minister ordered a swift investigation into the case and ensure that tourists under the “Sandbox” program are safe. More than 16,000 people have entered the island province under this program since July 1, of which around 50% are in fact tourists coming on vacation.
“The Prime Minister ordered agencies to investigate this matter as quickly as possible and urged government authorities to ensure the safety of tourists under the tourist sandbox program.”
In addition to ordering officers to quickly identify the suspect and make an arrest, the prime minister called on government agencies to step up public health and safety measures to support tourists in Phuket, according to the spokesperson. word.
“Finally, the Prime Minister called on all Thais to help promote a positive image of the country to attract foreign tourists who will help boost the local economy.”
Officers report the victim’s timeline
Nicole arrived in Thailand on Singapore Airlines flight SQ726 at 10:34 a.m. on July 13. She was traveling alone. His tourist visa was due to expire on August 26. From July 13 to 27, she stayed at the Dusit Laguna Hotel in Tambon Choeng Talay in Thalang District in a room she had reserved as part of the âSandboxâ program. Agents say she practiced yoga every morning with hotel staff.
When she left the hotel, she was picked up by a registered Phuket taxi that she had booked through the 12GO website and drove to Ao Nang in Muang District in Krabi. Reports say she passed the Tha hat Chai checkpoint in Phuket at the northern end of the island at 11:05 am on July 27, and then checked into the Vacation Village Phra Nang Inn in Ao Nang at 1:36 pm.
On July 30, she was chosen by a van service arranged by the hotel to visit downtown Krabi that afternoon. The next day, she left the hotel and returned to Phuket by taxi. She then checked into the Mooring Resort Hotel in Tambon Wichit in Muang District. Officers say they stayed at the hotel and relaxed on its beach. She was last seen on Tuesday August 3.
CCTV footage shows her exiting the hotel at around 11:25 am to go to Ao Yon Beach. About 20 minutes later, she walked to Ao Yon-Khao Khat Road towards Ao Yon waterfall, which was about 1.4 kilometers away. She was found dead yesterday afternoon around 1:30 p.m.
Officials express sympathy and call for action
At the Sandbox Operations Center today, Swiss Honorary Consul in Phuket, Andrea Kotas Tammathin, expressed sympathy and said she wanted the police to arrest the culprit as soon as possible.
âI feel very bad and have great sympathy for the woman who arrived as a tourist and who died because of the actions of a bad person. I want the police to arrest the culprit as soon as possible “
Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew pledged to do “everything in our power to investigate what happened and bring justice to Ms. Nicole.”
âPlease be assured of all our efforts to follow this matter very closely. “
The chairman of the Phuket Tourism Association, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, assured the public that the officers involved in the investigation would do their best to find the suspect and “impose the maximum sentence”.
âSecond, on behalf of all tourists to Phuket, we will not tolerate any such incident. We would like to make sure that we combine our efforts to ensure that tourists who come to visit Phuket are safe and sound and have some great memories to take home.
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