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Man charged with murder over death of Swiss woman in Phuket, Thailand

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By Euronews  with AP
Police tape cordons off the area where a woman was found dead in Phuket, Thailand
Police tape cordons off the area where a woman was found dead in Phuket, Thailand   -   Copyright  AP   -  

A man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a Swiss woman on the island of Phuket in Thailand.

The suspect, Teerawat Thothip, a 27-year-old Thai man living in Phuket, confessed to the killing of Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, 57.

The victim’s body was discovered on Thursday at a secluded spot on the island.

Swiss media reported that she was a member of the country’s diplomatic service.

Investigators were able to trace the suspect using security camera footage, and during the interrogation he was found to have scratches and bruises on his body, a senior police officer said.

The suspect told reporters he went into a forest on Tuesday to try to find rare plants to sell, but was unsuccessful.

On his way back, he said he passed a waterfall and saw Sauvain-Weisskopf. He said he strangled her from behind, and that she resisted for a while before losing consciousness.

He then covered her with a black sheet, which was found nearby, took 300 baht (€7.60) from her backpack and threw her trainers away.

He said his motivation was because he had no money and no work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cause of death has not been confirmed, and an autopsy report has yet to be released by the authorities, a police spokesperson said.

The incident has cast a pall over Thailand’s so-called Phuket Sandbox programme to try and bring fully vaccinated foreign tourists to the popular destination, which has been struggling massively during the coronavirus pandemic.