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Sunday, 30 March 2008

Hanna Charlotta Backlund was found murdered at Mai Khao in Phuket

Police have arrested and charged with murder their prime suspect after he gave himself up in Ranong province.
Region 8 Police Deputy Commander Maj Gen Tavat Boonfueng led a team to Ranong to bring Akkaradej Tunkae, 31, back to Phuket, arriving at Tah Chat Chai Police Station in a police van at 5:30 am, it was announced at a press conference this morning.
Akkaradej allegedly told police that he had watched Miss Backlund and her friend Emma Stenman at Mai Khao Beach for three days until on Saturday he spotted Miss Backlund sunbathing alone.He approached Miss Backlund from behind, with a kitchen knife in his right hand taken from his home in Thalang, police said.He grabbed Miss Backlund by her throat with his left hand and, when she attempted to break free, stabbed her in the neck, stomach and side of her body, police added.
After rushing to his home on his motorcycle, he cleaned the knife and hid it in a closet before he changed his clothes, said police.
On Sunday morning, Akkaradej and his daughter traveled by bus to a relative’s home in Chumphon province, police told reporters.
After hearing media reports that police had spoken to locals and were moving in on a prime suspect in the murder, Akkaradej left his daughter in the care of his relative and traveled to a friend’s home in Ranong, the police said.
Akkaradej called his wife and father and told them where he was, which the pair then reported to police. Last night at Tah Chat Chai Police Station, Akkaradej’s father persuaded him by phone to give himself up, the police said.With Akkaradej’s wife and father present, police took Akkaradej into custody in Baan Tublee, Ranong province, at 1:35 am.Lt Gen Thanee Thawisri, commander of Royal Thai Police Region 8, said, “The knife has been found and will be sent to Surat Thani for testing. We will have the results of DNA tests soon and will take samples from the suspect’s clothes, finger nails and tissue.”Akkaradej said, “I feel bad about everything that has happened. The night after I did it I went back to my home and cried. I feel hurt and sad for [Miss Backlund’s] family and also for my family. I accept everything that I did because I feel pity for my own daughter.”The case will be sent to court within one month, said police.The 100,000-baht reward offered by local businesses for information leading to the arrest will be given to Akkaradej’s wife and father, police added.

Christina Palm, acting Swedish consul, told reporters, “I am very happy that the police arrested the suspect so quickly. I would like to thank all the officers involved in this case.”Swedish national Hanna Charlotta Backlund, 26, was found murdered at Mai Khao in Phuket on Saturday. According to reports, the body was dressed in a swimsuit and her throat had multiple stab wounds. There were also lacerations to her back, midriff and hands.Police said that this was an attempted rape. When looking for a motive for an attack on someone wearing nothing but a swimsuit and with no valuables on them, this is clearly not an attempted mugging. Police also said that a group of three or four people are responsible.
“Emma [Hanna’s friend] left the resort to buy some water and she told Hanna that she will join her sunbathing later. About 30 minutes later, she returned to find Hanna dead,” police told the Gazette.Emma, told police that the pair often sunbathed topless. Although she said that they normally did it when no-one was around, it’s open to speculation whether this played a part in Hanna’s tragic death.
This is eerily reminiscent of the Katherine Horton incident in which the British tourist was raped and murdered on Samui in 2006. When that happened, Thaksin made a song and dance about catching the killers because of the potential impact such a case could have on tourism. Now that we have another young woman murdered in a possible botched rape, there really is nothing the current government can do to prevent a backlash.With no witnesses and a recent spate in Phuket of unsolved cases involving murdered foreigners, this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. At least in the case of Katherine Horton her killers were brought to justice and given the death penalty.
At the moment, the Post, Nation and, obviously, the Gazette have picked up this story along with IHT.Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat visited Phuket late Sunday night to ask police to speed up probe into the murder of a tourist on a popular beach of this island province.
Weerasak arrived at the Phuket International Airport at 11:55 pm to find out the progress of the probe into the murder of Charotta Hanna, 27.Weerasak asked police to brief him the details of the beach and the attack.Phuket Police chief Pol Maj Gen Decha Butrnamphet reported to him that the Phuket Tourism Association offered Bt100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the murder.


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