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Australian, American among four charged for ‘Abandoned Phuket Zoo’ post

Australian, American among four charged for ‘Abandoned Phuket Zoo’ post

PHUKET: Two foreigners and two Thai nationals have been charged with trespass and breach of the Computer Crimes Act for entering Phuket Zoo allegedly without permission and posting online claims that animals at the zoo had been abandoned, and for setting up an account to receive donation to collect money to feed the animals.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Thursday 23 April 2020, 10:10PM

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Rungrote Thakurapunyasiri speaking at Chalong Police Station, where the four were charged today (Apr 23), named the four as Australian Minh Nguyen, American Joy Marian Somers and Thai nationals Hussein Ahmad and Hassun Kohkhar.

Gen Rungrote alleged that on Apr 14, at about 6pm, Hassan climbed the wall into Phuket Zoo. He recorded a video in the zoo and narrated that the zoo owner had abandoned the animals.

The video was posted on Facebook by “Joy Somers”. From investigation, officers had learned that the account belongs to Miss Joy Marian Somers, he said.

Ms Somers today openly admitted that they had opened a bank account under the name of Mr Khokhar to collect donations to buy food for the animals  – a fact still plainly seen in videos posted on Minh Nguyen’s YouTube channel, along with video recorded evidence that money was spent on buying food to deliver to the animals.

Zoo owner Suriya Tanthaweewong, 40, reported the incident to police and complained that the zoo had not opened any account to receive donations, Maj Gen Rungrote said.

Maj Gen Rungrote added that the account set up had received “millions of baht” in donations.

Mr Suriya also told police that the zoo “had never abandoned the animals”, and repeated that the zoo has sufficient food for the animals.

That claim was upheld by wildlife officials who visited the zoo last Friday (Apr 17), more than two days after being informed by senior officers in Bangkok of the alleged condition of the animals in the zoo.

Despite saying that the zoo had enough food to feed the animals and that the animals were in “perfect condition”, officials still promised to provide more food to ensure the welfare of the animals.

Also last Friday, Mr Suriya told national reporters, “If people wish to support the feeding of the animals I am very happy to allow it. We can be contacted for further details on telephone number 061-8259225.”

The zoo was closed by order of the Phuket Governor’s office as one of the measures to shut down tourist attractions on the island to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Gen Rungrote explained today that all four suspects had been charged with entering false information to a computer system which negatively affected others. 

Mr Kohkhar was also charged with trespass.   

The bank account with the donations received had been seized, he added.

Gen Rungrote noted that the penalty for the breach of the Computer Crimes Act that the four face is up to five years in prison or a fine of up to B100,000 fine, or both. 

The charge of trespass may incur a penalty of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to B10,000, or both, he added.

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Christy Sweet | 26 April 2020 - 08:39:40

Not as weird as internet stalking someone in control fantasies of punishing them for their opinions. 
Where in the report is it stated the men were  charged with fraud? 

DeKaaskopp | 25 April 2020 - 18:39:56

@GerryT81    Now I found the Facebook-site too.  I think someone is broke. Explains the grumpiness.

GerryT81 | 25 April 2020 - 13:10:53

Christy, I didn't accuse anyone of breaking the law.But if a foreigner lives here on a ret.Visa or biz.Visa and that foreigner can't afford to even buy a used fridge, I call it weird. And if the same person likes bashing Thais/Thailand but accepts donations from Thai's,I call it even more weird.

Christy Sweet | 25 April 2020 - 10:14:58

No one has said funds were used in a fraudulent manner,  and were made available to the zoo owner, reportedly.  Since these men did not own the animals, it's not at all like my asking for donations for my own private animal sanctuary or flight funders.   Please do make a police report if you think I  have broken a law. Be sure to  use a full name. 

JohnC | 25 April 2020 - 08:56:45

The owners should be charged with robbery for taking money from gullible tourists to see a torture chamber for animals.

GerryT81 | 24 April 2020 - 21:58:55

Ms.Sweet,how do you know they were acting in an altruistic manner ? Are you comparing them with your own asking for donations to feed your horses and cats.Or for an 800.000 baht donation to fly out the horses from Thailand ? 

LALALA | 24 April 2020 - 19:58:51

DEK.... you are right,I may stink. The point is that I will make my way out here as soon international flights resume which was planned before covid 19 already. You sound like you will stay here and you may stink a bit longer than. Wish you good luck with that.

Christy Sweet | 24 April 2020 - 18:56:18

These men were acting in an altruistic manner. The funds were not fraud. I hope they have a good lawyer who knows how to work the media. #FreeThePhuketZoo4 

DeKaaskopp | 24 April 2020 - 14:56:22

"The whole thing stinks as everything does in Thailand" As you are still here,it would include yourself too, right?

GerryT81 | 24 April 2020 - 13:39:10

"Millions of baht in donations" Wow,people are very gullible to donate money on some account opened by an individual person.Who guaranties that all the money is really spend on food?

Kurt | 24 April 2020 - 12:12:24

This Phuket Zoo Affair reached a 'General level'. Is 'influence' going that high up? Is Phuket Zoo making that much money? In which other 4.0 Country a General would lower himself to personal involvement with a simple Zoo? Is a lieutenant or captain level not enough to handle this? Is it about lack of education or just job inflation?
Or perhaps something else we don't know. :-...

LALALA | 24 April 2020 - 10:23:10

I do not believe the zoo owner or the authorities one single word. The whole thing stinks as everything does in Thailand. One of many reasons to leave this country finally for good as soon as international flights resume.

the-one | 24 April 2020 - 10:09:46

The real scam is the zoo. 

The real truth is Thailand can't even feed its people and you expect us to believe to they are feeding these animals.

The tough police standing over the table in uniform, gets old. No one respects a corrupt authority. But its amusing.

Read the reviews of on google on the zoo.

Look at the people in the street starving. 

Thailand, its own enemy.  

Little Tommy Tucker | 24 April 2020 - 08:55:43

Why do people need to support these animals through donations if the animals are in, according to officials, and I'll quote, 'perfect condition'?

Fascinated | 23 April 2020 - 22:48:44

Did this really require a General to make a statement? It stinks of 'influence' which the Zoo has clearly demonstrated it has over  the years. No one is ignorant of the deplorable conditions there.


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