Phuket task force files 400 cases against foreigners

Phuket task force files 400 cases against foreigners

Authorities on tourist island step up efforts to root out bad behaviour

Tourists relax on the beach in Phuket. (File photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Tourists relax on the beach in Phuket. (File photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

PHUKET: At least 400 criminal cases have been filed against foreigners by the province’s new special task force set up to watch out for bad behaviour by visitors, according to Phuket governor Sophon Suwannarat.

The centre was established a month ago following several incidents involving foreigners, including the highly publicised case of a Swiss man who kicked a female Thai doctor on Yamu Beach in February.

Mr Sophon said that almost 100 foreigners have had their visas revoked, adding that it had to be done for public safety.

On Wednesday, a taxi driver in Thalang district was physically assaulted by an Austrian visitor, leading to a minor car crash.

According to Pol Col Patsakorn Sonthikul, the deputy commander of Phuket provincial police, the Austrian, identified as Gernot Leoben, 59, put Wutthiporn Chaimongkol, the taxi driver, in a headlock as they were heading from Phuket Airport to tambon Chalong.

Mr Wutthiporn told police that Mr Leoben grabbed him from behind after he told the passenger not to smoke in the car.

It caused the driver to lose control of his taxi and hit another car in front driven by Thanongsak Sonpetch on Thep Kasattree Road.

Mr Wutthiporn called for help and was assisted by Mr Thanongsak and several bystanders.

The Austrian passenger was arrested for assault and taken to Thalang Police Station, Pol Col Patsakorn said.

In a related development, US ambassador Robert Godec, on Thursday met the Phuket governor to discuss safety measures for tourists. The two also discussed efforts to ensure that foreign visitors follow Thai laws and respect local traditions.

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