Police search ashram for clues on Koh Tao death

Police search ashram for clues on Koh Tao death

Plainclothes police visit a branch of the Sathya Sai Baba sect on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani province on Sunday as part of the investigation into the death of Belgian tourist Elise Dallemagne. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)
Plainclothes police visit a branch of the Sathya Sai Baba sect on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani province on Sunday as part of the investigation into the death of Belgian tourist Elise Dallemagne. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

KOH PHANGAN, SURAT THANI - Police searched an ashram affiliated with a religious cult on Sunday as part of a wider investigation into the death of a Belgian tourist on neighbouring Koh Tao.

When police from Koh Phangan station arrived at the ashram, a branch of the Sathya Sai Baba cult, they found only two Indian members on the premises.

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  • Koh Phangan police chief Pol Col Somchai Noppasri said the two Indians told the investigators that Raaman Andreas, a German who is the sect leader on Koh Phangan, left for Sri Lanka and India two months ago. They did not know when he will return, he added.

    Police believe Elise Dallemagne was a devotee of the Indian sect but have not yet linked it with her death. 

    Pol Maj Gen Chalit Thinthanee, the deputy of the Provincial Police Region 8, on Sunday again asked Mr Andreas to help police clear up the mysterious circumstances of her death.

    Dallemagne was found dead, reportedly hanging from a tree with a rope around her neck, in jungle terrain above Koh Tao's Tanote bay on April 27. Police ruled that the 30-year-old Belgian committed suicide, and the autopsies substantiated the ruling.

    Police on Koh Tao returned to Tanote bay to look for additional evidence and check CCTV footage at a shop nearby. The video showed Dallemagne visiting the shop on April 21 to buy plain rice and a ferry ticket for April 24.

    The Belgian checked into Triple B Bungalows on April 19. She abruptly left the resort on the same night after a fire which, according to the owner, started in her hut before spreading to other bungalows.

    The footage seen by police on Sunday confirmed that she went to Tanote bay after the fire.

    After her story was run on the Samui Times, an online outlet, police reopened their investigation. They have questioned more than 15 people -- ranging from staff at the bungalow to ferry crew members --  in bid to end speculation about her death. 

    Crime Suppression Division police from Bangkok were sent to the resort island to assist local police.

    Pol Col Wichorb Kerdkliang, the deputy police chief of Surat Thani, said about 10 more people remain to be questioned, and they hope to complete the questioning process on Monday.

    Police will review the evidence and study the autopsy reports before reaching a conclusion on the case.

    "So far investigators and police from Koh Tao and Koh Phangan police stations have not found anything that suggests a murder motive or the involvement of anyone else in the death or Dallemagne," Pol Col Wichorb said.


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