Koh Tao police to reopen death case of Belgian tourist

Koh Tao police to reopen death case of Belgian tourist

A bungalow on Koh Tao in Surat Thani province similar to the one where Belgian tourist Elise Dallemagne stayed and was burned down before she was found dead later at another place. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)
A bungalow on Koh Tao in Surat Thani province similar to the one where Belgian tourist Elise Dallemagne stayed and was burned down before she was found dead later at another place. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI - Koh Tao police have been ordered to look into the death of a Belgian tourist found dead on Koh Tao in April again after her case was posted in social media.

Deputy Surat Thani police chief Pol Col Preecha Kladsawad on Thursday directed investigators of Koh Tao police station to reopen the investigation into the death of Elise Dallemagne after her story was run on the Samui Times, an online newspaper, and later shared by the CSI LA Facebook account.

Dallemagne, 30, arrived at the island in Koh Phangan district on April 19 and checked in at a bungalow at Mae Haad, according to the Samui Times.

The tourist told her mother by Skype on April 17 that she was on her way home after 18 months of her globe-trotting trip and she booked a ferry ticket to Chomphon province on April 24 on her way to Bangkok, it said.

Her bungalow was burned down on the day she arrived and her luggage arrived in Chumphon but its owner never arrived, according to the online media. Her body was found a few days later in the jungle in Tanote bay "partially eaten by animals, wrapped in T-shirts", it said.

Police on the resort island concluded that she had committed suicide. Local press were not aware of the death at the time.

Koh Tao police chief Pol Lt Col Chokchai Sutthimek on Thursday confirmed the case but gave some different accounts.

He said the body was found on April 27 but denied that part of it was eaten by animals or wrapped up. Dellemagne was found with a rope tied to her neck from a tree in the jungle and evidence showed that she could have died between April 23-24, he added.

The officer said the body was sent to the mainland for an autopsy at Surat Thani Hospital and the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Police General Hospital in Bangkok. The cause of death was suffocation from lack of oxygen as a result of the rope, he added.

Police informed the Belgian embassy in Bangkok and her mother before cremating her in the presence of embassy staff, according to the Koh Tao police chief. The mother came to Thailand to collect her belongings, he added.

He denied that her bags had arrived in Chumphon on a ferry as reported by the Samui Times.

Pol Lt Col Chokchai said the wooden bungalow where she stayed was burned down on April 19 and witnesses saw her and other tourists escaped the fire. "She disappeared afterwards before the body was found in Tanote bay, which was on the other side of the island," he said.

The island police commander said police assumed that the fire was due to a candle or a lamp in her room but police did not collect evidence at the place after the resort owner had no intention to lodge a complaint with police.

Koh Tao has turned infamous after two Briton tourists, David Miller and Hannah Witheridge, were brutally murdered in September 2014. The Appeal Court handed down the death sentence on two Myanmar migrants.

Russian Valentina Novozhyonova went missing in February this year on his visit to the island.



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