Swedish national Hanna Charlotta Backlund, 26, was found murdered at Mai Khao in Phuket on Saturday. According to reports, the body was dressed in a swimsuit and her throat had multiple stab wounds. There were also lacerations to her back, midriff and hands.
Police said that this was an attempted rape. When looking for a motive for an attack on someone wearing nothing but a swimsuit and with no valuables on them, this is clearly not an attempted mugging. Police also said that a group of three or four people are responsible.
“Emma [Hanna’s friend] left the resort to buy some water and she told Hanna that she will join her sunbathing later. About 30 minutes later, she returned to find Hanna dead,” police told the Gazette.
Emma, told police that the pair often sunbathed topless. Although she said that they normally did it when no-one was around, it’s open to speculation whether this played a part in Hanna’s tragic death.
This is eerily reminiscent of the Katherine Horton incident in which the British tourist was raped and murdered on Samui in 2006. When that happened, Thaksin made a song and dance about catching the killers because of the potential impact such a case could have on tourism. Now that we have another young woman murdered in a possible botched rape, there really is nothing the current government can do to prevent a backlash.
With no witnesses and a recent spate in Phuket of unsolved cases involving murdered foreigners, this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. At least in the case of Katherine Horton her killers were brought to justice and given the death penalty.
At the moment, the Post, Nation and, obviously, the Gazette have picked up this story along with IHT.
Addendum: CNN has also picked this up.
Addendum II: Remember what I said about Thaksin stepping in to speed up the case after Katherine Horton was murdered? Well, we have a similar situation with this case. From The Nation:
Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat visited Phuket late Sunday night to ask police to speed up probe into the murder of a tourist on a popular beach of this island province.
Weerasak arrived at the Phuket International Airport at 11:55 pm to find out the progress of the probe into the murder of Charotta Hanna, 27.
Weerasak asked police to brief him the details of the beach and the attack.
Phuket Police chief Pol Maj Gen Decha Butrnamphet reported to him that the Phuket Tourism Association offered Bt100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the murder.
There is clearly some concern how much this will affect tourism, much more so than with previous murders. One hundred thousand baht is a hefty sum. I predict that there will be arrests made by the end of the week.