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07 December 2023

Thai man sentenced to death for German tourist rape, murder

Ronnakorn Romruen (AP)


A Thai garbage collector has been sentenced to death for the grisly rape and murder of a German tourist holidaying on a beach island.

Ronnakorn Romruen was arrested in April, hours after the bloodied body of a 27-year-old German woman was found buried under dried leaves and rocks on the picturesque island of Koh Sichang in the Gulf of Thailand.

A Thai court announced the verdict and sentenced the 24-year-old garbage collector to death on Wednesday.

Ronnakorn was under the influence of methamphetamines when he raped the victim, the court said.

When she attempted to escape, he used a rock to repeatedly batter her head and face.

This "caused severe wounds that led to her death," the court said in a statement.

Ronnakorn had pleaded guilty to all charges - including rape, murder, concealment of the body and using methamphetamines.

Last year, Thailand carried out its first execution since 2009 by putting a 26-year-old convicted murderer to death by lethal injection.

Human rights groups condemned the "deplorable" decision to resume the practice after almost a decade with no executions.

The country, which has some of the highest incarceration rates, has more than 500 people on death row.

A popular tourist destination, Thailand is expected to receive upwards of 40 million visitors this year and is generally considered safe for travellers.

But several high-profile incidents have tarnished its reputation in recent years.

In 2014, the battered bodies of two British backpackers were found on the dive resort island of Koh Tao.

The following year two Myanmar migrant workers - who remain behind bars today - were sentenced to death for the murders after a controversial investigation and trial that were criticised by observers.