3 Thai men sentenced to die for killing British man and wife

In this file photo, officers stand by the area where the bodies of a murdered Briton and his Thai wife were found, in Phrae province, Thailand. (AP)
Updated 31 May 2019

3 Thai men sentenced to die for killing British man and wife

  • The Phrae Provincial Court found Nhot’s older brother, Warut Rattanasajjakit, guilty of masterminding the couple’s murders and hiring two other men to help him carry out the attack
  • Police had accused Warut of plotting the murders in order to take control of Hogg's assets and sell some of them

PHRAE, Thailand: Three men in northern Thailand were found guilty Friday of murdering a British expat and his Thai wife and sentenced to death.
The bodies of retired petroleum engineer Alan Hogg, 64, and his wife Nhot Suddaen, 61, were found buried on their property in Phrae province last September.
The Phrae Provincial Court found Nhot’s older brother, Warut Rattanasajjakit, guilty of masterminding the couple’s murders and hiring two other men to help him carry out the attack. All three were found guilty of premeditated murder, concealing bodies, illegal possession of weapons without licenses and bringing those weapons into the city without licenses.
Police had accused Warut of plotting the murders in order to take control of Hogg's assets and sell some of them.
According to the court’s ruling, Warut initially asked his neighbor, Suma Utpamoon, to assist him in the murders but Suma refused after learning that Warut sought to kill his own sister. However, Suma was still paid by Warut for recommending the two men to do the job and was charged by the court with assisting premeditated murder.
Suma received a 25-year prison sentence, which was halved from a 50-year penalty because he cooperated with the investigation.
The court found that the two hired men shot Hogg with a shotgun, while Warut bludgeoned his sister to death using a car wrench. It said the killers then used a backhoe to dig a hole outside the couple’s home to bury their bodies.
The bodies were discovered once the couple was reported missing and a police investigation began.
The court called the murders “an act that extremely damages the country’s reputation as unable to ensure the safety of lives and assets.” It said the three were considered “extremely dangerous to society.”
Pawina Chuayen, a lawyer for the family of the victims, said their foreign relatives were satisfied with the court’s ruling but were also deeply affected by the events and not ready to speak about the case.


‘Clear risks’ for stability in China’s Pacific lending, Australian think tank warns

Updated 40 min 53 sec ago

‘Clear risks’ for stability in China’s Pacific lending, Australian think tank warns

SYDNEY: China’s financial largesse in the Pacific carries “clear risks” for stability if left unchecked, a Sydney think tank warned, while saying allegations of “debt-trap” diplomacy are so far overblown.
In a study released Monday, the influential Lowy Institute warned that fragile Pacific nations risked borrowing too much and leaving themselves exposed to demands from Beijing.
China has repeatedly been accused of offering lucrative but unserviceable loans to gain leverage or snap up strategically vital assets like ports, airports, or electricity providers.
While Lowy said allegations that China was engaged in “debt-trap” diplomacy in the Pacific were overblown, the trend was not positive and countries like Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu were dangerously exposed.
Between 2011 and 2018, China committed loans to the region worth $6 billion — around 21 percent of regional GDP.
A majority of that money, $4.1 billion, was earmarked for Papua New Guinea.
Only a fraction, less than $1 billion, has so far been dispersed but China is still the single largest creditor in Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu.
“The sheer scale of Chinese lending and the lack of strong institutional mechanisms to protect the debt sustainability of borrowing countries mean a continuation of business as usual would pose clear risks,” the report said.
The South Pacific has become a forum for intense competition for influence between China, the United States, and Australia in recent years.
The island nations sit on a vital shipping crossroad, contain vast reserves of fish stocks, and provide a potential base for leading militaries to project power well beyond their borders.
Beijing has stepped up engagement in the region through a series of high profile visits and no-conditions lending via its Belt and Road Initiative.
The Solomon Islands and Kiribati recently announced they would switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing after a long courtship by the country’s Communist leaders.
Six Pacific governments are currently debtors to Beijing — the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Lowy said many of China’s loans carry a modest two percent annual interest rate.
But it warned that China would need to adopt formal lending rules if loans were to be made sustainable as natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis can quickly upend countries’ ability to pay back loans.
“Three small Pacific economies — Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu — also appear to be among those most heavily indebted to China anywhere in the world,” it said.