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Strange details emerge in Phuket Russian kidnapping case

Strange details emerge in Phuket Russian kidnapping case

PHUKET: As police wait for confirmation that the corpse found on Saturday afternoon (March 29) in the Baan Don area is that of missing Russian Alexei Slabinsky, more details of the background to the case are emerging, often conflicting with earlier versions.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Monday 31 March 2014, 04:34PM

The remains were found after two sniffer dogs, Kara and Forget, were brought in to look for a body in three different locations. The dogs were first allowed to sniff clothing that had been worn by Mr Slabinsky. They found the body in woods about 100 metres off Soi Kok Tanode 3 in Baan Don.

Mr Slabinsky had had dental work done at Bangkok Hospital Phuket so dental impressions and photographs of the teeth of the corpse have been sent there to see if a match can be made.

No attempt was made to bury the body – it was found lying on the ground covered with a green plastic bag with palm fronds on top. It was so badly decomposed as to unrecognisable.

Pol Lt Gen Panya Mamen, Commander of Region 8 Police, said due to the state of the body it was impossible to determine whether it was that of an Asian or a Caucasian.

Pol Lt Col Prawit Engchuan, one of the leaders of the team that has been trying to find Mr Slabinsky and his two Russian abductors, said that the search sites had been chosen after Mr Slabinsky’s girlfriend Yana Strizheus described being taken in a pick-up truck to a number of places on the island.

She was kept blindfolded in the back seat of the truck, Col Prawit told The Phuket News, but was able to tell police that the site had a rough road and that she had the sense that it was near a body of water. There are several tin mines in the area where the body was found.

“It took us three days to find the body with the sniffer dogs,” Col Prawit said.

“It should take less than a week to identify whether [the body] is that of Mr Alexei,” Col Prawit said.

The Bangkok Hospital declined to give any information on the case.

The body itself will undergo autopsy to see if cause of death can be established, and DNA samples have been taken in case the dental evidence is inconclusive.

Meanwhile confusion seems to surround the evidence given by Mr Slabinsky’s girlfriend, Ms Strizheus.

Earlier, police said that she had told them she had witnessed Mr Slabinsky being tortured, and had been left behind by the two men wanted for the abduction and, possibly, murder of Mr Slabinsky, after she slashed herself in an attempt to commit suicide.

Her story now, however, is very different, and strange in parts, suggesting the alleged abductors, Andrei Zabelin and Aleksandr Novichkov, may have kept her drugged, possibly with some kind of “date rape” drug.

Here is the story she told the Police Volunteer:

March 6, she came home after a driving lesson to the villa where she lived with Mr Slabinsky. There was no one home but not long after, Zabelin arrived and took her to another villa – she was not sure where.

UWC Thailand

March 7, she called Mr Slabinsky and got the impression he was being kept in a different villa, close by, though she was not sure where. They spoke about money, with Mr Slabinsky saying that he had his credit card, “but they need more”.

She believes that on the same day Mr Slabinsky was brought to the same villa where she was being held, but she was not sure of this, and she did not see him. She was taken by Zabelin to an ATM where she withdrew B90,000 from her own account.

The evening of that day or the next, she saw Zabelin and another man put something in the back of a pickup truck. They then put her in the cab with a towel over her head and started to drive around the island. Several times, she said, “something fell out of the back” and each time the men stopped to put it back.

On March 7 or 8 they took her to stay at yet another villa in Bangtao. Their security was quite lax, and after two days she simply walked out, found a security man and asked him for help.

However, Zabelin found her, told the security man that she was his wife and took her back to the bungalow in the resort.

Bizarrely, she says she worked for a couple of days at the villa, selling tours, before telling Zabelin and Novichkov that she wanted to go home. She also called sister – her phone was not taken away by the two men – to say that if she did not come home the following day, “I am dead.”

In the warrant for Novichkov’s arrest, he is accused of kidnapping, extortion and attempted rape. She told the Police Volunteer that at some time during her ordeal Novichkov took her into a bathroom with him but nothing happened.

However, she woke up one morning and had the impression that she had been somehow interfered with.

March 13, the two took Yana with them and visited Mr Zabelin’s wife Lera and his family before going to the airport. They stayed there overnight and in the mroning tried to buy a ticket to Vladivostok for Yana – she had told them that her sister knew she had been kidnapped and a search had been launched for her.

On March 14, she said, they moved again, to the Blue Garden Resort. The two men had seen news reports that a search had been launched. They became scared and left, she said, locking her in the bungalow.

The following day, unable to gt out, she tried to kill herself by slashing her wrists and her throat, but realised that suicide was not easy. She cleaned up and then tried to break out through the roof but was unsuccessful.

The following day staff who came to check when the bill for the bungalow would be paid found her injured and distressed and called police. The 10-day ordeal was finally over.

The volunteer said that Ms Strizheus had not been tested to find out whether she had been drugged during the abduction.

Additional reporting by Wiparatana NaThalang and Daria Manina.

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