12 July 2024

The suspect, being held in police custody in connection with the death of a Swiss tourist, told the Thai media today (Sunday) that he only intended to steal her money and only assaulted her when she resisted.

The victim, 57-year old Ms. Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, deputy protocol chief of the Federal Assembly of Germany, was visiting the popular resort island under the Phuket “sandbox” program, which allows the entry of foreign tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and who have tested negative 72 hours before their arrival in Phuket.

Her body was found on Thursday, face-down in a creek near the Ton Ao Yon waterfall, about a kilometre from her hotel. Police said she had been dead for about two days.

In an interview with the media, via the Line Call system organized this morning in the presence of the national police chief, Pol Gen Suwat Jaengyodsook, Phuket Governor Narong Woonsiew and other senior police officers, 27-year old suspect Thirawat Tortip, said that, on August 3rd, he rode his motorcycle to search for flowers in the area of forest where the waterfall is located.

He left his bike at the foot of the hill and walked to the top tier of the waterfall, but could not find the wild orchids he wanted. On his way back to his bike, he claims he found the victim alone in the creek with her backpack nearby.

Thirawat said that, on an impulse, he decided to rob the victim, because he had no money as he had been out of job for a long time, adding that he approached her from behind and put her in a head lock, but she fought back and he kept her face down in the water until she fell still.

He went on say that he searched her backpack and took 300 baht in cash, placing a plastic sheet over her body before fleeing the scene.

The suspect said that he used the money to buy soft drinks, ice, cigarettes and marijuana, which he shared with his friends, before returning to his lodgings until the police took him into custody yesterday.

Police charged Thirawat with murder and robbery.

Pol Gen Suwat appealed to the people on Phuket to trust that the police will try their best to ensure public safety and to ensure that the Phuket “sandbox” scheme proceeds uninterrupted.