Police investigation finds that the Deutsche Welles TV exposé on Pattaya underage sex arrests was unethical. No substance was found in the claims made in the documentary that officials in Pattaya were bribed to let a German businessman fly home after being arrested in an underage sex crackdown.
Big Joke or General Surachate Hakparn heralded his trip to Germany as a success this week. It came after a written statement by a 55-year-old German businessman arrested in Pattaya in September 2022 for underage sex, absolved police in the city of complicity in his escape from justice in Thailand. The letter was handed over by German police. Afterwards, General Surachate blamed the media outlet Deutsche Welles TV and unethical behaviour by journalists for the controversy raised in December when an explosive TV exposé was aired in Germany and worldwide online.
Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn, on a visit to Germany, has blamed journalists working with Deutsche Welle (DW) for explosive claims in a controversial TV documentary which was banned in Thailand and led to a high-level investigation led by the top cop.
On Friday, General Surachate revealed that the German source in the documentary had blatantly lied to attract higher ratings. The documentary ‘A Shady Side of Paradise’ aired in December 2023.
It was featured on German TV eight times from 30 November to the 4th December 2023. The show was first advertised in September 2023 and also subsequently broadcast worldwide on YouTube.
55-year-old Jens Kirch told journalists previously he had bribed his way out of trouble in Pattaya.
Undoubtedly, the show caused a sensation and severely damaged Thailand’s reputation.
In the TV documentary, the German man appears and tells the TV station he bribed officials in Thailand. Now he says it was a lie. Bank records support this
The shocking claim originally made by the German tourist was that he paid ฿1 million to Pattaya police. This was to secure his release on bail in 2022.
Mr Kirch stood accused of soliciting and having sex with an underage prostitute.
German accused faces criminal charges at home over under-age liaison with a 17-year-old Pattaya bar girl
The tourist has now issued a letter retracting his previous statements.
In it, he confirms that the information he provided was misleading. Furthermore, Deputy national police chief Police General Surachate revealed that Kirch has now also apologised to the Thai police.
The claims were front and centre in the hard-hitting documentary posted by Deutsche Welle (DW). The show can still be seen on the TV station’s YouTube Channel.
However, the documentary is still blocked in Thailand. It also highlighted a criminal case of paedophilia with Mr Kirch charged before Pattaya Provincial Court.
German and US men arrested in raids after picking up underage girls for sex at a beer bar in Pattaya run by a UK national. Part of a citywide crackdown
The German was arrested following a police raid on a Pattaya establishment named Cobra Beer Bar on September 11, 2022.
At length, it was part of a police crackdown on underage sex for sale in the notorious resort.
At the same time, an American foreigner arrested in similar circumstances also later eluded prosecution. The identity of this man has only been revealed as Mr Michael. He was reportedly 49 years old.
In the German TV documentary, Kirch openly admitted to having engaged in a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old minor. Previously, he took her to his hotel room from the beer bar owned by a UK national.
Kirch claimed to have paid around ฿700,000 for bail and legal fees, along with an additional ฿1 million in cash to officials. The latter payment, allegedly, was to secure bail.
After that, he left Thailand. He returned to Frankfurt, Germany. In short, this was seven days after criminal charges were filed in court.
German who skipped bail on sexual assault of a minor charge in Pattaya named by top cop to the press
Police General Surachate Hakparn, during his meeting with German police and prosecutors, revealed details about Kirch’s testimony during interrogation in Germany.
In December, German authorities made it clear they would not extradite Kirch. Instead, they proposed to prosecute him at home for related offences.
German claims he was unaware the girl was underage
According to the German prosecutor, Kirch maintained that he was unaware the person he slept with was under 18.
Formerly, Kirch allegedly requested permission from the Thai court to return to Germany due to a purported heart condition.
Certainly, prostitution is legal in Germany but tightly regulated.
He also told the court he was concerned about his business. However, he subsequently failed to attend the Thai court hearing. This week, he cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for his no-show.
The letter from Kirch, translated into Thai, refutes the bribery claim. It states that he only paid for his bail and legal costs.
He claimed the journalist who interviewed him intentionally presented the information in a misleading manner. In effect, to attract more TV viewers in addition to viewers for the YouTube channel broadcast.
Big Joke satisfied with his trip. The accused blamed the TV station for unethical conduct and reporting. At the same time, Thai authorities were praised
Therefore, Kirch apologised for cooperating with an unethical journalist. In turn, he acknowledged that Thai authorities acted professionally.
He expressed regret for tarnishing Thailand’s reputation and stated that he was unaware of the journalist’s agenda.
In response to Kirch’s letter, Police General Surachate expressed some satisfaction. He said his trip to Germany had been a success. He emphasised that the German national had recognized the distortion of facts by the journalist and extended an apology.
Significantly, Thai authorities were commended for their professional conduct in handling the case.
Police General Surachate or ‘Big Joke’ noted that Kirch’s financial transactions supported his testimony at this point. In short, the German’s evidence aligned with bank records inspected by the Royal Thai Police Office.
Meanwhile, the top cop intends to use the information gathered this week to assist the ongoing investigation.
This was launched shortly after the documentary first aired last year and was ordered by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.
Incident is a disturbing one and certainly damaging
While the letter helps clarify the situation, the fallout from the explosive TV documentary undeniably damaged Thailand’s reputation.
In truth, many will be rightly sceptical of a German national who now admits to telling lies and who skipped bail, blaming the media, quite apart from his sexual proclivities.
Nevertheless, there is some truth in the claim that Western media organisations often exploit tropes about Thailand. Moreover, they apply a different, somewhat lower standard when it comes to reporting accuracy and fairness.
In essence, this has to change along with stronger policing to wipe out the exploitative human trafficking trade. In short, international media reporting on Thailand should be more up-to-date, fairer, nuanced and balanced.