Thai police charge Frenchman with rape of British tourist

Koh Tao is a Thai island popular with European budget tourists, especially those who enjoy diving. — Reuters pic
Koh Tao is a Thai island popular with European budget tourists, especially those who enjoy diving. — Reuters pic

BANGKOK, April 10 — A French citizen has been charged with raping a British backpacker on a popular Thai holiday island, police said today.

The alleged attack took place on the island of Koh Tao, a spot that draws divers from all of the world.

The holiday spot made headlines in 2014 when the bodies of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on one of the island's beaches having been bludgeoned to death.

Two Myanmar migrant workers, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, were found guilty in 2015 of killing the pair.

Thailand remains a popular destination for travellers on a budget and tourism is a vital part of the economy, but a spate of crimes against visitors in recent years has raised questions about tourist safety in the country.

In the latest case, police said an 18-year-old backpacker, whose name has been withheld, claims she was drugged and raped by a French tourist on April 4 on Koh Tao.

Thai police identified the suspect as 26-year-old French national Yohan Michael Tunka Buaga. He was arrested on Saturday and charged with rape on Monday and is being held on the nearby island of Koh Samui.

“The suspect has admitted to having sexual intercourse with the victim, but he said that it was consensual and not rape,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Piyapong Boonkaew of Koh Tao police told Reuters.

“We are now investigating the case and waiting for forensic examination,” Piyapong said.

Reuters was unable to contact both the suspect's and the victim's lawyers. — Reuters

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