As Thai police reel from allegations of incompetence and
beating suspects during their investigation into the murders of Hannah
Witheridge and David Miller on the island of Koh Tao perhaps an even more
shocking story has come to light showing how Thai police invented  a crime to arrest a British tourist.
And not only  that but
Thai police managed to have him convicted and sent to a squalid jail without
entering a guilty or not guilty plea, and without letting him even enter a court or see
a judge.
The case of Jason Sudra, a man who was falsely charged with
attempted fraud in a city renowned for its untouched foreign fraudsters has set alarm bells ringing.   A flying sporran investigation.
An executive in the supermarket trade, who took a break to visit Hindu and Buddhist temples in South East Asia claims he found himself  banged up in a Thai jail on a 12 month sentence without trial after he berated police in the resort of Pattaya for their laziness.

The former management executive for Tesco’s, Asda and the Co-op had just finished the last Thai temple on his list after touring Laos and Cambodia,

The temple was the ‘Sanctuary of Truth’ in Pattaya., but just after ticking it off his ‘to-do’ list Jaysukh Sudra, 48, from Enfield, claimed he met nothing but liars, thieves and cheats.

First he found himself being mugged by three men, and that was followed by being abused by ‘lying and cheating’ Thai police officers.

Jaysukh Sudra, known to his friends as Jaysukh, said after falling victim to a Thai police scam he ended up in the squalid Nong Plalai jail outside the resort city where , he said, 29 men died in the space of the five weeks he was there.

But today he was back home. As he left Suvarnabhumi airport Bangkok he said: “I never want to go back to Thailand in my life. I have seen the side of the country which is not on brochures. I have seen people treated worse than animals.”

His plight would not have been heard of had it not been for a prison visitor Ian Tracey, who contacted lawyers and a British journalist.

Sanctuary of Truth

Jason’s incredibly story began on September 2nd when having left the temple he returned to the Tune Hotel in Pattaya, had a shower, and went out for something to eat.

“I had quite a very good dinner, a fresh sea bream cooked in salt, and took a stroll along the Beach Road heading back to my hotel.  Pattaya had not impressed me. The beach was no good. And the city was full of girly bars and ladyboys, and while this may be fun for some, it was not for me and I had decided to head home the following day. 

“But suddenly I was confronted by one man in front of me and two behind. They shouted something. I knew it was a mugging. So rather than confront them I handed over my wallet. I have brought up never to fight in those situations.  My wallet was in a pouch handing round my neck and, and i also handed over my Casio watch, a Samsung phone and small pocket camera.  The men ran off and I hurried back to the hotel. 

“In the foyer was a policeman who was trying to negotiate in squabble between a lady boy and a hotel guest.. 

Jason Sudra at Pattaya Court after a judge dismissed the case

“I made a point to the officer. I told him I had been mugged and that he should do something better like watching the streets. 

“He said I should make a complaint.

“I said no. I was tired and wanted to go to bed. Besides, I said, I only had 300-400 baht in my wallet (about £8.00), the Casio watch was cheap, as was the camera was and the phone. 

“But the office insisted and I tagged alone.

“Then it became boring. At the police station it took two hours to write the simplest statement – and then they wanted to charge me for it!  I said I would not. I did not want to make a statement, I wanted to go to bed.   

“I shouted why on earth were they not back on the streets looking for the muggers? I accused them of being lazy ‘b….s’ But they wanted 500 baht (ten pounds).  I refused to pay and they were furious. I was fed up with their behaviour. They were looking for no-one. I guess I was extra rude because I was angry and tired.

“Eventually they took me back to the area where I was mugged and of course no-one was around – and then back to the hotel. 

“Then an hour later they banged on my hotel door. They said they needed me to sign other documents. They were insistent. So I got dressed and went back with them.  Once in the police station they accused me of making a false statement. I denied it. They kept on and on for hours. I said I had not written a false statement. There was no interpreter, no opportunity to call a lawyer or anything. 

‘A foreign police volunteer came in. He was Brazilian.. He said; ‘Look don’t worry. Just sign that bit of paper. You’ll pay a small fine and you can go back to your hotel.  They just need a little money. Its best you sign or they will make trouble’ 

“So I signed. It was in Thai.  Suddenly the media were all over the place taking pictures of me and I was banged up and police threw my wallet at me.

Once in the cell a policeman came and said: ‘Now you pay and you go.” 

The Pattaya Police officers claimed that Sudra had falsely claimed he had been robbed of over £500 in cash and an expensive Tag Heuer watch as other items totaling £2000. They said they had found the camera, watch, and mobile phone in his hotel room.

CCTV Footage

Reported Pattaya Today: “A 48-year-old British tourist, Jaysukh Sudra, has been charged with perjury after making up a sorry tale that he had been attacked by three men with knives near the Tune Hotel in North Pattaya by bandits who ran off with his digital camera, a watch, a mobile phone, personal documents and 20,000 baht. But when police investigators asked for more details, he could not answer them and changed his story, initially claiming the attack had taken place in an alley but later stating it was on the beach. The CCTV at the hotel showed that the man was not carrying any bags on arrival at the hotel nor did he wear a watch on either wrist. But the video showed he went out at 8 pm and returned four hours later with two bottles of beer in his hands. Faced with the overwhelming evidence of telling lies, he admitted his perjury.”

In fact no Tag Heuer watch was produced by police. Mr. Sudra agreed he was not carrying any bags. And the overwhelming lies were coming from Pattaya Police. “I would like to see their CCTV evidence.”

Staff at the Tune Hotel who kept all his items for safekeeping confirmed that police took no reported items from his room and police showed no items at the press conference as per normal.

And the story made the Thai national press including the Khao Sod (Fresh News) Thailand’s biggest selling newspaper, suggesting Mr. Sudra was another bad foreigner, who had come to Thailand to cheat.

Mr. Sudra continued:

 “The next morning I found myself in a cell underneath what I know was Pattaya Provincial Court. I did not know why I was there. Then along came a police officer with a piece of paper together with an interpreter, a Russian woman called Maria Pavlenko.  

The officer spoke to the woman and the woman spoke to me. She said: ‘Just sign here and you can go home now’. “I signed, and then waited, and waited. 

I waited all day then I was taken out of the cell with the other prisoners and put into a truck.  The guard said to me ’12 months!’.   

I was speechless and terrified and I had good reason to me. Once inside my clothes were taken from me and I was forced to put on the brown prison uniform. I was put in a cell with 120 other inmates and from that moment my status was less than an animal.

Nong Plalai Prison

“In the centre of the room was a filthy squat toilet. One of the first things I was told that the person who held out longest refusing to use it was a German, but he cracked on the 48th day. 

“Actually I held out for 14 days but I could not hold it in any longer. Every inch of that prison was filthy. A woman from the Embassy called. She said she could do nothing about my case. The Embassy could not interfere with the Thai justice system. But she agreed to send a letter to the Governor asking that I got prescription medicine.  I know the letter was sent and I was taken to the hospital.  The guards would not hang on while I collected my prescription (because it was a Friday and they were off for the weekend) and so I never got it. 

“Living in the jail was purely a matter of survival. I was sandwiched between a credit card scammer and a murderer. I got along quite well with the murderer.  Somebody had hit him – so he went back to kill him.  That seemed a recurring theme among the murderers in the jail.

“The routine was wake-up 6.30 and have a shower and breakfast.  15 minutes was allowed for the breakfast of rice and maybe a bit of meat or fish head. There was hardly enough water to get wet. 

“Then it was back to the cell and everyone had to sit in a squat position until 11.30 which was lunch. Then back to the squat position sitting in a place one foot square, then dinner at 2.30 pm!. At 3 pm to 8 pm it was back to the squat position and then you had to find a place to sleep.  This took about half an hour because I guess the room could not even take one extra body. People were sleeping under other peoples arms and legs, head to feet, spooning, whichever way it could be done. 

“People were coughing all night, people were stamping over other people to get to the toilets. Some were engaged in sexual acts with each other, and others were literally dying. If a person died his body would be propped up in the corner until the morning. 

“The authorities did not like people dying in the prison. They tried to get the very sick out at the last minute to a hospital, so they could say they died while getting medical treatment. But really these people were gone anyway. There is no medical treatment to speak of.  

Local reporters get details of Jason’s crimes. But where are the missing items, the camera, Tag Heuer watch, and mobile
phone police said they found in his hotel room?

“Due to lack of medication my gout came back and I had to be carried around by other prisoners. 

“For two weeks in my cell all the prisoners caught a red-eye infection – conjunctivitis – the room looked a lot worse than the characters in the Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video. 

“I have to admit I lost my faith for a while in jail. I could not understand how humans could treat other humans in the same way.  Some of these people were vile but they could summon up a smile whenever it was appropriate. 

“I have seen lovely parts of Thailand but this country will never be for me. At the moment I still do not understand what I have been though. I cannot understand how people can have so very little humanity, but there were moving moments too when prisoners shared their food – a sort of ‘We’re all in this together feeling’.

“I saw prisoners come and go. I saw how drugs traffickers could pay themselves off and disappear out of the system by a payment to police of about £50,000 – and sure enough they always left on the day they said had been designated. And I saw the guards steal a part of everything which was brought in for prisoners.  The Thai justice system is nothing more than a standing joke.”

The case was taken up by Thai lawyer Kosol Pamato, who interviewed the interpreter who admitted telling Jason he could go home after signing a document. That was what the officer told her to tell him, she said.
Those documents were a confession and guilty plea to making a false statement to police, and making a false statement to make a false insurance claim. 
Jason, recently the manager of the Co-op, Dagenham, and previously Trading Manager for ASDA, and Ambient Manager for Tesco’s said:

 “The allegations were absolutely crazy. I do not even have any insurance against theft. I did not bring anything expensive with me on holiday except my lap top which I kept locked up in the hotel with most of my cash.   

“The only insurance I have was an additional health premium which would cover if I was involved in an accident.  The police saying that they had recovered the stolen objects from my room was a bare faced lie.  If they did – why did they not show them at the press conference – and where are they now! 

“My partner back home Sita, and my 22-year-old daughter, and my friends have also gone through an almost indescribable ordeal.  

“I have read the news how Thai police have been behaving with regard to the two young Britons who were murdered in Koh Tao and I understand how everyone feels about the police. No Thailand is not for me. It could never be despite its beautiful places. The police and legal system have done it for me. This is not about how they treat foreigners its also about how they treat their own people.”

Jason Sudra on his release from prison

On Thursday last week Mr, Sudra was taken out of prison in a wheelchair and returned to the court which sentenced him.
‘How do you plead?’ he was asked. ‘Not guilty,” said Jason.  “In that case,” said the judge. “I am dismissing the case. The interpreter was not authorized and did not swear to the court so this conviction was illegal. I discharge you. If the prosecutor or the police do not present a case why this should not be so, you will be released from the jail forthwith.”

The judgment did not include any remarks critical of the police. Neither the prosecutor or police went to the court to object the dismissal of the case.
After his release Mr. Sudra said: “I can’t stop thinking about the people I have left behind in the appalling place. These people exist. Nothing else. What is happening to them is barbaric.”
“All I want to do is be back home with my friends and family, with perhaps a beer and a Pizza and red steak, and appreciate what I have at home.  I have never appreciated it so much before.”
Said lawyer Kosol Pamato: “Jason can take legal action but he would need to come back to Thailand to pursue the case. He does not want to think about that at the moment.”

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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