The other diver, Hungarian, Attila Ott, has already been deported from Thailand after both men were arrested and later transferred to the Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok, a notorious holding facility well known for overcrowding and harsh conditions where some foreigners have even perished. 

Senior Thai officials are calling for a quick resolution to an appeal lodged by one of the foreign divers who was arrested and ordered to be deported from Thailand last September. Italian, Francesco Simonetti, one of two expats who appeared in an underwater dive video that outraged nature-loving Thai locals in August, was reportedly released from the Immigration Detention centre in Bangkok on bail pending an appeal against the decision to deport him which is to be heard by a committee within the Immigration Bureau service under the Immigration Act. 

The Minister of Natural Resources, Varawut Silpa-Archa (centre) has been joined by the Governor of Surat Thani province, Wichawut Jinto, in calling for a speedy resolution to an Immigration Bureau appeal lodged by Italian man Francesco Simonetti (right) against his deportation from Thailand ordered in September after he was convicted of an offence related to an underwater dive off Ko Pha Ngan in August which infringed environmental protection orders and vulnerable marine life.

The Thai Minister of Natural Resources, Varawut Silpa-Archa, has again called for robust action against those interfering with Thailand’s valuable offshore underwater environment and endangering marine life.

His comments come after he ordered officials in August to take decisive action against two western foreigners who had sparked local outrage after posting an underwater video online in which they were seen playing and cavorting with exotic sea creatures off the island of Ko Pha Ngan where both lived.

Minister ordered an investigation and action against the expat pair in August over the underwater video

The minister’s command led to the arrest of Hungarian Attila Ott and his underwater colleague Italian, Francesco Simonetti, on September 1st last by local police on the island after further enquiries from officials attached to the Marine and Coastal Resources Department in cooperation with the Immigration Bureau in Surat Thani province.

Both men were charged with a criminal offence and fined ฿10,000. Their visas to live on the island were also revoked because of the convictions associated with the offences.

Both men were taken by the Immigration Bureau into custody pending their deportation from the kingdom.

This resulted in the pair being taken to the notorious Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok which is standard procedure for foreigners being deported from the country.

Hungarian and Italian jailed at the IDC prison in Bangkok after their immigration visas were revoked

The Immigration Detention Centre Prison in Bangkok is infamous among foreigners for its overcrowded and harsh conditions with confirmed instances of foreigners, who have simply fallen foul of the strict immigration laws in Thailand, dying while being held there pending deportation back to their home countries. 

Mr Ott had lived on the island of Ko Phan Ngan for seven years where he ran a popular scuba diving business called the Pink Panther Scuba Dive Club and had a Thai wife.

His deportation back to Hungary was later confirmed by Sophon Thongdee, the Director-General of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department.

Italian Mr Simonetti appealed his deportation order under the Immigration Act and was granted bail

However, it is understood that the Italian man, Francesco Simonetti, who also lived on the island and worked as a chef at a local restaurant, the Barracuda, was subsequently released from the Bangkok holding centre after appealing his deportation to a committee within the Immigration Bureau who will consider the case.

Mr Simonetti has posted bail of ฿50,000 pending his appeal.

Minister and Governor call for a swift conclusion

Now, the minister, who initially called for action to be taken against the men, has again spoken out on the matter. 

Mr Varawut told the media that someone has to speak up for defenceless marine life in the coastal region as it has no voice. 

At the same time, he acknowledged the rights of others to pursue appropriate legal avenues but has called for the law to be justly applied.

He has been joined in this by the Governor of Surat Thani province, Wichawut Jinto, who has described the matter as an urgent one concerning environmental resources that requires a speedy resolution.

The minister has said the case should send out a message to all foreign visitors to coastal areas in Thailand to respect the sea life and the kingdom’s environmental heritage.

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Further reading:

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