BANGKOK – A British couple in their 60s who were brutally attacked during a family holiday in Thailand recounted the assault Monday in court, after a visit from government officials bearing gifts and apologies.
Rosemary and Lewis Owen and their 43-year-old son were vacationing last month in the resort town of Hua Hin when a group of four allegedly drunken Thai men attacked them. A video of the April 13 assault was widely shared in Thailand and drew global attention to the attack, in which the three tourists were punched in the faces, knocked down and kicked until they fell unconscious.
Police have said the attack started after the Owens’ son accidentally bumped into one of the Thai men on a crowded street. Police have arrested four suspects who face charges of aggravated group assault which carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
The attack was the latest blow to Thailand’s image as a tourist haven and has prompted officials to vow swift punishment for the perpetrators.
Panadda Diskul, a minister in the Thai Prime Minister’s Office, visited the couple in a Hua Hin hospital Monday. Thai media reported that he apologized on behalf of the Thai government and promised the suspects would face trial.
He was accompanied by the Hua Hin police superintendent, the Hua Hin mayor and the provincial governor, Thai media reported. They presented the couple with fruit baskets, flowers and other gifts.
Rosemary Owen, 65, suffered a serious head injury that resulted in surgery to remove a buildup of fluid in the brain. Her 68-year-old husband and 43-year-old son, who left Thailand last week, both required stitches in the head.
“The couple looked better. I saw them smiling and relaxed, which was not the case last week when they were frightened, upset and angry, understandably,” said police superintendant Col. Chaiyakorn Sriladecho. “The doctor said this morning that their wounds are healing fine and that there shouldn’t be any more complications.”
Ahead of the couple’s scheduled flight home on Tuesday, they were taken to the Hua Hin court for their testimonies to be recorded.
“Their testimonies today will be used for the trial later. We asked them to do this so they won’t have to travel back to Thailand once the trial begins,” Chaiyakorn said.
Details of their testimony were not made public.
The trial date has not yet been set.
Police superintendent Sriladecho said all alleged attackers are in their 20s or 30s and they apologized for what happened.
“The men say they are sorry and that they wouldn’t have done this if they weren’t drunk,” he said.
In March, four French tourists were assaulted on the island of Koh Kut as they walked to dinner. They included a mother and daughter who were both raped.
Two British backpackers were murdered on the island of Koh Tao in 2014. Autopsies showed the couple, a young man and woman, had been severely beaten and the woman raped. Two Myanmar, or Burmese, migrants were convicted of the crime based on DNA evidence that rights groups say was questionable.