IN wake of a spate of deaths involving its citizens in Thailand, the British government has issued an advisory guiding relatives on how to go about handling crime-related deaths in the Southeast Asian country.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office published the advisory on Wednesday offering steps the next-of-kin should take when dealing with the authorities involving cases of murder, manslaughter, or deaths under suspicious circumstances.
The advisory provides bereaved families with a general idea of the administrative processes involved in matters like post-mortems and police investigations, right up to burial and repatriation.
It explains Thai police will conduct full post-mortems in murder or manslaughter cases and that the body of the deceased can be kept by authorities for up to 30 days. Release of bodies, however, can experience delays if the state prosecutor decides to charge a suspect in the case, it adds.
In order to repatriate the body, hospital bills need to be paid before it can be released and the British Embassy could issue a document to facilitate the release, containing details of the funeral director organising the repatriation. The body must also be embalmed before it is released for repatriation.
On burials and cremation arrangements, the advisory says while both are available in the Buddhist country, burials are rare and are typically only for foreigners.
“As a result, they can be very expensive and difficult to organise, so you may want to consider having the deceased repatriated and arrange for the funeral take place in the UK,” the advisory says.
Mortuaries with suitable facilities are mostly situated in Bangkok, the advisory adds. Rural mortuaries meanwhile lack many facilities, including appropriate hygiene and sanitation. The advisory says the next-of-kin should make quick decisions on what to do with the body as some mortuaries charge daily fees.
For those who decide on burial or cremation overseas, the advisory says “there would not normally be a Coroner’s inquest in England or Wales”. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, inquests will not be held even if a body is repatriated to the UK, it adds.
On other useful information, the advisory also warned of the “intrusive” nature of the local media who may publish graphic images, including of the deceased and the crime scene. Local media may also be present if the families visit Thailand, including at their meetings with Thai authorities.
Under certain circumstances, Thailand’s Justice and Tourism and Sports Ministries have compensation schemes, with a maximum cap of THB100,000 (US$3,000 or GBP2,270) and THB300,000 (US$9,000 or GBP6,810) respectively, for the families of the deceased.
World class beaches, delicious food, a vibrant culture and cheap hospitality make Thailand an attractive destination of choice for many British nationals. According to Thailand’s Tourism Department, some 1,003,386 British citizens visited the country in 2016.
A blog site tracking the deaths of westerners in Thailand has listed over a dozen deaths involving British nationals since January, several of which have been linked to criminal or suspicious circumstances.