“We are pretty sure that there is not a third party involved in the rape. I don’t know where that claims come from,” says Ramrada Wongnarongphon or Pingpong, a staff at a guesthouse in Chiang Mai where a recent ‘gang rape’ case allegedly occurred. She is referring to another suspect whom a Dutch tourist claimed to have ‘gang raped’ her together with two Danish nationals.
On February 25, 19-year-old Kasper Pederson and Thomas Jensen from Denmark arrived at a famed guesthouse, preferred to keep its name anonymous, in Rajchiangsan district, an area known as bag packers’ heaven in Chiang Mai, the North of Thailand.
The two Danes who flew from Bangkok checked in with Ramrada at 5 p.m. “I always remember the guests who checked in with me,” she recalls. “After that, at 6 p.m they had a group meeting with our staff (about a trekking trip they were scheduled to take the next day). They then asked me where to go for drinks in town for the night. So I suggested one bar at a westerners’ nightlife hub near Boonyu Market.”
That was Ramrada’s first encounter with the two Danes – remembering one of them as “very good looking” – before her work shift ended at dawn, long before an incident that has put the two tourists in a Thai public bad light started.
“The next day, the police came to ask us whether we had two guys named Kasper and Thomas staying here. We said, ‘Yes but they went on a trip,’” she says. “So the officials went to the rafting and took them into custody.”
The two Danes were charged of gang raping a Holland girl in early morning on February 26.
According to the police report, the 23-year-old Dutch had come to visit Chiang Mai alone for several days. She told the police that on the night of February 25, she went to a bar, and while she was drinking there, at about 11 p.m. she met a Danish man, and began talking to him. Later they both went to his room 302 on the 3rd floor, in Rajchiangsaan district.
When they reached his room, his two Danish friends were already there. The three men then allegedly subdued and raped her, until each man reached orgasm. She could not fight against the three men and passed out. When she woke up in the morning, the three men had gone. So she went to notify the police and also informed the embassy.
Truth or Fiction?
But the accounts taken by the guesthouse security cameras and its staff tell otherwise. “We saw (on the cameras) that around midnight Thomas and the victim walked into the compound. About an hour later, the victim came down while talking on the phone. She then fell down in front of our front door,” says Ramrada, pointing out the contradiction in the victim’s testament that she woke up alone in the room in the morning.
“After she collapsed she even told our guy who worked here at night to send her home.”
Ramrada says security cameras also confirmed that there’s another lady in the room. “Kasper brought a Chinese lady to the room before Thomas and the victim came in. After the victim left, it showed Kasper walking the Chinese lady back to her place in town.” But that very fact was not mentioned in the victim’s report to the police and the unidentified lady had traveled back to her country soon after the incident.
One fact that is also perplexing to Ramada and the staff is the existence of the other suspect. “We haven’t seen the picture of the other man involved. It was their first time in Chiang Mai and even though we had other Danish male tourists at the time, it was very unlikely that they were involved in this,” she says.
“I’m trying to be neutral here. Because I’m also a woman. But our staff can guarantee that the suspect and victim were walking into our compound in consent.”
Trapped in the city for months to come
“On Feb 28, the two Danes were released on bail by a coordinator from the Danish Consulate in Thailand,” says Pol. Lt. Col. Saipin Tijjarat, the detective officer who heads the investigation of this case. The bail was made at the police station. According to the Thai criminal law, the bail money for a gang rape case is 350,000 baht per suspect.
After getting bailed out, the suspects attended a ‘criminal investigation prior to prosecution’ at the Chiang Mai court. “They were testified before the judge, victim, one witness – assumed to be the victim’s friend, a lawyer and a translator. The investigation was requested by the victim as she was expected to leave the country soon after the incident,” a source who works at the Court says.
“However, according to the law, they are not permitted to travel outside Chiang Mai and their passports have to be kept at the police station,” says Pol. Lt. Col. Saipin. “Either the suspects or the guarantor have to present themselves to the police in every 12 days or so.” The latest meeting was taken place in March 12.
Pol. Lt. Col Saipin says that further details of the case cannot be disclosed to the public and the police are now collecting witnesses and preparing the evidence to be sent to the public prosecutor. “The process could take up to 6 months. However, we are trying to finish the investigation in two months,” the policewoman says.
That amount of time does not include the court hearing and its other processes that could as well take up to another 6 months. “Basically, it means that the two will be trapped in Chiang Mai for many months to come,” says Trongyos Taywadej, a local lawyer.
Will they escape?
The detective officer stated that the two suspects are not keen to talk to the press due to a tendency of stress they are facing. After the arrest the Danes were portrayed heavily by Thai media as criminals.
“We (investigation team) don’t know their whereabouts, nor had their contacts. But they contact us regularly to inform that they are in still Chiang Mai,” Pol. Lt. Col. Saipin says.
When asked whether she feared the possibility of them escaping the country, the official said: “It is difficult for them to flee the country because they are now recognisable. The Thai TVs run their story with a huge public interest.”
With additional reports by Anders Holm Nielsen