Warrant for Samui Times owner issued

Warrant for Samui Times owner issued

Police gather evidence during a fact-finding trip to Koh Tao on Thursday after an alleged rape of a British tourist on the island. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)
Police gather evidence during a fact-finding trip to Koh Tao on Thursday after an alleged rape of a British tourist on the island. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THAHI: The Samui provincial court has approved an arrest warrant for the owner and administrator of <i>Samui Times</i>, a news website that ran a report on the alleged rape of a British tourist on Koh Tao, a local police source said on Friday.

Suzanne Buchanan, the British national named in the warrant, is accused of publishing false information on the website, thus tarnishing the reputation of Koh Tao and violating the the computer crime law.

The offence carries a maximum jail term of five years and a fine of 100,000 baht.

Legal action is being sought against the website after police concluded that the alleged rape of the 19-year-old British tourist did not take place.

The police have also threatened to press charges against the moderators of popular Facebook pages who spread "false" information in addition to 20 others who shared it online.

The account of the alleged rape, which is said to have occurred two months ago, has received widespread publicity in the UK. Local police maintain that the woman reported only the theft of a mobile phone and some money, and did not mention a rape. Others dispute this, with some saying she was too afraid to report the crime to police on Koh Tao, where numerous attacks on foreigners have taken place. 

Immigration police on Friday searched two locations on Koh Samui in the hunt for Ms Buchanan. However, they found no trace of her, the same source said.

In July last year, a group of people on Koh Tao filed a complaint against Ms Buchanan after the website published a story about the death of a Belgian tourist and claimed she was murdered.

Pol Maj Gen Apichart Boonsriroj, commander of the Surat Thani police, on Friday submitted a report to Pol Lt Gen Sorasak Yenprem, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8.

Pol Maj Gen Apichart said investigations concluded that the alleged rape did not take place as claimed by the British tourist. However, he said police would open a fresh investigation if new evidence surfaces.

The woman's mother is reported to be planning to travel to Thailand to press authorities to continue looking into the case.

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