Wednesday, 2 March 2016

3/02/2016 06:18:00 am

After last Saturday's attack on French visitors, a new Order of the Day to soldiers nationwide: Work with police, stay alert, keep tourists safe.

Army chief Gen Teerachai Nakwanich has ordered army unit commanders stationed in tourist provinces to boost safety for tourists in the wake of the rape and assault of a group of French tourists in Trat on Saturday night.

In a related move, Deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul has called for security background checks to be carried out on migrant workers seeking temporary work permits.

Col Sirichan Ngathong, deputy spokeswoman of the National Council for Peace and Order, discussed Gen Teerachai's order Tuesday after meeting with army unit chiefs.

Col Sirichan said Gen Teerachai wants soldiers to work closely with local police and officials to ensure safety for tourists across the country and boost safety standards at tourist spots. They must help come up with effective measures to prevent crimes against tourists and accidents.

She said Gen Teerachai also said he wanted to see laws strictly enforced to ensure tourists' safety as this would also help increase tourism.

Gen Teerachai was also concerned about illegal labour, mafia, gambling dens and contraband goods and told the unit chiefs to help deal with these problems, she added.

He also ordered his men responsible for safety in coastal provinces to work closely with the Royal Thai Navy and local police to carry out inspections in workplaces suspected of hiring illegal labourers and providing them with shelter.

Col Sirichan was speaking Tuesday after Cambodia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that five Cambodian fishermen arrested on Sunday had admitted to Eat Sophea, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand, that they raped and assaulted the French tourists on Koh Kut because they were drunk at the time.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said that Ambassador Eat Sophea had accompanied Thai officials to the island on Tuesday to investigate the case, "to make sure that it did happen or whether it is [a true] allegation or not", according to the Phnom Penh Post news website.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said authorities in Phnom Penh did not yet know the background of the five men, he said, adding that if the men were charged, the government would provide a lawyer for them.

Chum Sounry described the case as "sensitive", and said it had the potential to damage Cambodia's reputation, but cautioned, "we have to wait to see whether it is like the reports or not".

Four French tourists: two men -- Thomas Buiron, 30, and Edbri Ronain Rene, 29 -- and two women aged 57 and 28 were attacked late on Saturday.

Trat police chief Nopparat Rintapon said the attackers swam from their fishing boat to assault the group and raped the two women at knifepoint. They were caught while trying to escape.

Meanwhile, the three injured victims identified the five Cambodian suspects as their attackers at an identity parade Tuesday.

The identification of the suspects -- Yim, 25, Pai, 22, and Goen 25, Tee and Boad Mar, both 20 -- was arranged at Trat Hospital in Muang district Tuesday morning amid tight security. They were later taken to Trat Provincial Court in a police mini-truck for their detention to be extended pending further investigations.

Pol Maj Gen Nopparat said the French victims, two women and a man, picked out all five Cambodian nationals in the lineup.

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