Thai governor threatens legal action over article calling Koh Tao an 'island of death'

Tourists prepare for a diving on the island of Koh Tao on September 20, 2014.
PHOTO: Reuters

The Surat Thani governor yesterday criticised a local website that branded Koh Tao as an island of death, following the recent death of a Belgian tourist in April.

Saying he was seeking to take legal action, Governor Uachai Inthanak said the incorrect, false and distorted report has tarnished the island's reputation and image.

Koh Tao resort island is located off Surat Thani and near Samui Island.

The website, Samui Times, based its report on seven deaths that occurred on the island, but the governor said that only one case was the result of a murder.

He was referring to a brutal murder of two British backpackers in 2014. Two Myanmar workers were arrested for killing the tourists and now face a death sentence.

The latest death of Elise Dallemagne, which Thai police concluded was a suicide, has drawn attention to the island.

Her mother told the foreign media that she did not believe her daughter committed suicide and Thai police were trying to cover up the real cause.

However, Thai police insisted that the mother, who came to identify the body after it was found in late April, accepted the conclusion that her girl took her own life.

The governor said he already assigned his legal team to look into the evidence concerning the website's report.

"I'm the governor and a directly affected party from the report. We will file a police complaint and check whether the website is linked to the Samui Times newspaper that is on sale on the island," he said.

Meanwhile police spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said that the Thai side is confident that Dallemagne died of asphyxiation from hanging.

Her body showed no sign of a struggle, the spokesman said, and the tourist had a record of attempting to kill herself.