The boat owner, 26-year-old Phuket resident Woralak ‘Yui’ Rerkchaikarn, remains in custody at Phuket Prison after the court denied her bail on the charge of recklessness causing death.
Speaking in front of Phuket Provincial Police Station, the lawyer, Nipit Intarasombat, told the press that Ms Woralak made every effort possible to provide assistance to victims and those affected immediately after the disaster.
“She did much to help victims and relatives, and to support volunteers and support rescue teams,” he said.
Regardless, Ms Woralak has been charged with recklessness causing death, he said, adding that Phuket Provincial Court had denied her to post bail.
“We are working on an appeal to allow her to post bail, but the court has declined,” he explained.
“We appreciate that police are working in a clear, straight-forward manner, and that police have disagreed with filing a charge that the company used nominee shareholders,” Mr Nipit added, referring to initial allegations by Tourist Police that TC Blue Co Ltd, which operated tours on the Phoenix, had used nominee shareholders.
“Investigators from the Tourist Police questioned her and later said that she had confessed… but every conversation has been recorded – and this is important as evidence to present to the court and the NACC (National Anti-Corruption Commission), he said.
“A letter has been sent to today to Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen to inform him that anything that the owner has done to assist police with their investigations is void.
“From today, the owner of the boat will not give any testimony to investigator anymore. Any testimony from investigation will be considered inadmissible (in court),” Mr Nipit warned.
“Regarding any aspects of the boat that are deemed to be not meet standards, you have to check who registered the boat. You have to clarify who has been ‘reckless’ or caused the accident,” he added.
“We are confident that this boat is legal. On that day, it was a severe storm that was a critical factor in the accident.
“We will fight all charges in court, and please let the court decide who is guilty,” Mr Nipit said.
The announcement today came while a contracted salvage team were hopeful of recovering the Phoenix from the seabed some 1.5 nautical miles off Koh Hei (Coral Island), south of Phuket. (See story here.)
Late this afternoon came confirmation that efforts to recover the boat today were again hampered by the weather, but the salvage team will try again tomorrow.
Once the boat has been recovered, it will be taken to the Rattanachai Shipyard in Rassada, where investigators will have 30 days to inspect it. (See story here.)