Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday, December 03, 2016


Security cameras in the Thai hotel, where the battered body of ‘beloved’ American university professor James Archibald Hughes was found, were not functioning. The six CCTV units had not recorded anything for more than two years, hotel staff told police.

Further, members of staff could tell police little of the comings of the 58-year-old academic, who had been staying in the Puang Pen Hotel in the resort town of Hua Hin for a month, apart from volunteering the facts that he left about 9am each morning to buy stuff outside and around that time paying his bill daily.

James Hughes

Police say they remain puzzled about the demand by administrators at the Webster University to require several American members of the academic staff to sign a ‘cease and desist’ order forbidding them from showing pictures of his dead body or talking about the case. 

The contained threats by acting University director Keith Welsh was that if they did they would be reported to Hua Hin police or the U.S. Embassy. It is unclear what sort of threat that would be. But it is very possible breach of the order could be used as an excuse to terminate staff members.

In New York James Hughes’ brother, David, remains incensed at both lack of police investigation and lack of assistance by the US Embassy. The text of an angry complaint he made to Jane Vanelli of the United States Citizens Service is reproduced below.

Hua Hin police insist they will continue with the investigation and maintain they had no reason to be suspicious until the autopsy report came in.  The US Embassy does not comment on consular cases.

James Hughes had retained his apartment near the university but moved to live in Hua Hin town centre for a month.  What has not been answered are the following among many questions.

Who or what was he hiding from? Why did he have to cancel a planned trip to Chiang Mai with a colleague? What was he doing and where was he drinking for the last month and in particular on his last night?

He had been found with a comparatively high amount of alcohol in his blood but police made no mention has been found of alcohol or bottles or glasses in his room. 

Where was he spending his money? He had made several high withdrawals of cash, according to his brother, but there was little money (about 100 baht), and only one change of clothes in his room.

There appears to be a consensus that Hughes was worried about something. But there is no indication of suicide and that was ruled out as cause of death.

Further, comments appearing to support the university’s stance are being pushed out under pseudonyms on social media.  One such post on the web forum clearly conveys the view there was nothing suspicious and suggests that, whatever happened, James Hughes had brought it on himself, and the matter should be now laid to rest. 

The poster reported that apart from a generous tribute before his cremation, there had also been a memorial service for James ‘on the day that he died’ which would have been before his brother knew about the death.

‘You've heard of suicide by cop?  How about suicide by bar patron?  or by street thugs?  or by taxi driver?'

The letter by 'Pitty Sing' was critical of the Bangkok Post article in the Spectrum section last seek ‘What happened to my dead brother?’ complaining that the Bangkok Post had not contacted the university for comment asking: ‘What kind of journalism is that?’

Not only had the Bangkok Post contacted the University but they had also prominently quoted the acting director Keith Welsh.

Hotel staff had opened up Hughes’ room on the top floor after he did not answer calls from the maid who wanted to clean his room. 

According to police, they said they used a spare key but had to break the security chain.  Police were not witness to the opening of the door.

Although the police strongly denied last week that the investigation had been closed, it is clear little further action was taken after his body was found in early September.  David Hughes says he extensive injuries should have merited an immediate investigation and police should not have waited for the post mortem results. 

Security cameras in That resorts can be a mixed blessing for Thailand. Recently in Hua Hin they recorded the savage pack attack on a British family who had been drinking in the town centre and the video went viral.

The attackers of a director of the privatised  H.M.Stationery Office in the UK were also not caught on camera. Millionaire Keith Burbage had been in dispute in Hua Hin over a house he had bought only to find he had been given another house on a different plot, which he did not want. He was attacked late at night in the centre of town. This picture was taken after the attack.  Mr. Burbage decided to retire in South America instead.
Nobody was ever charged with the attack.


Bob Kneale said...

It's a shame, of course, that the deceased's brother had to be in the position he is at all but it's a greater shame that this allegedly disturbed and obsessive man sent an offensive and rude email to his Embassy when the US mission had no authority to get involved in the way the brother thought it should and did all it was enabled to do by law.

Perhaps he should be directing his venom at the person who arranged for the cremation, has anyone asked him about why that was done so quickly without referring to Hughes' next of kin? I wouldn't be surprised if he could throw some light on things if it is confirmed that Hughes' death was not natural, accidental or unintentionally self-imposed and so far that hasn't been confirmed except by people who are receiving third hand information and reacting to hearsay.

Andrew Drummond said...

Its not the first and won't be the last angry letter to an Embassy in Bangkok.
The US has no authority over law enforcement in Thailand. It can however voice its views. What laws are you referring to. I think you mean Custom and Practice, and memos from State Dept. Your second paragraph is sheer speculation. Whethet it did all it was required to do by the State Department I do not know. But that is not an awful lot. And is usually the blanket advice to 'consult a lawyer'. Many embassies seem unable to recommend a straight one. And most seem to publish disclaimers if one of their list turns out to be dodgy.

Statmonkey said...

I appreciate a good contrarian argument. I like to question things. In the hopes of seeing some good contrarian argument instead of the above I offer this:

Keys to good contrariness:

Empathy - holding contrary opinions is fine if you understand how they impact others. This means realizing that ridiculing others who have suffered loss or are not alive to defend themselves should be kept to yourself.

Logic - A good contrary position is based in rational, logical and defensible analysis. If you are going to oppose another position you should analyze it for flaws but be able to show how those flaws are incorrect. Plus your position should have some basis in fact or logic. If you are going to accuse others of speculation then speculating yourself is pointless.

Espousing a contrary position just to be contrary is not rational, logical, valuable or justified.

If you violate either of these first two rules your opinion will be thrown out as utracrepidarianism or worse - trolling.

Note: It helps if you have experience or personal knowledge that is relevant, research to support your argument or some basis for your contrary opinion. Consistently taking the other side in all arguments shows little except an argumentative nature. Also, if you have a point make it clearly. Passive-aggressively hinting at why a site you visit often/comment on constantly only makes you look irrational.

As an example:

My business partner was murdered by his girlfriend. His body was immediately cremated by the authorities (who were paid by the girl with evidence and admitted - they wanted a better offer to testify) and everyone blamed me for pursuing it. The bank had video of her making with-drawls (large) from his ATM Card but "lost" them after it was exposed. The American Embassy was worthless and Thai Immigration put me on a watch list. One policeman admitted that he was sure she did it. Several years passed as I pursued it and was told I my evidence and suspicions were based on "hearsay". Finally the girlfriend confessed after she was caught trying the same with a Thai. Had she not been caught for the other she never would have been nailed for the former. I personally have witnessed several such cases that would be both consistent and supportive of the conclusions that the brother has come to. I am sorry for his loss and hope he has better luck than I did.

Trollmeister General said...

I think your use of the expression "..used as an excuse to terminate staff members..." is most unfortunate, AD.
I think referring to the contracts of those staff members would be much more appropriate, don't you?

Baa Loy Yet Mae said...

You're a snarky little individual Bob Kneale

Andrew Drummond said...

Thank you statmonkey. Empathy: Well I certainly have empathy for the victim and family. Logic tells me there must be an explanation for the injuries. which has not been produced though he was in a busy town centre not in rural Thailand.Logic tells me cause of death has not been established. I do not espouse contradictory positions for the sake of it but for the experience and knowledge that police have covered up many deaths of foreigners. Your example seems to prove the point. It was abundantly clear from the offset that despite a recent surge of publicity that this death will not be cleared up. And the issues it raises, Embassy assistance, and Thai police investigations need to be in the public eye.

Statmonkey said...

well said and you only used about 5000 less words than I did. LOL. That's two different approaches, is there any chance Bob rationally and objectively evaluates his comments as to why people find them insensitive, inaccurate and offensive? .... I doubt William Hill will take that one.

Megalodon said...

I have long come to the conclusion that Bob Kneale is an unashamed apologist for the "system" and the "establishment" in Thailand.
Nothing that the ruling junta says or does will ever attract adverse comment from Bob; nothing the establishment ever does will attract opprobrium as far as he is concerned.
So be it. Let him live in his cocoon, in his bubble, in his Thailand-is-perfect-and-must-never-be-criticised-by-Westerners world.
Maybe one day he will see the light but I wouldn't bet my pension on it happening any time soon.