Dutch tourist held in Thai prison for weeks after visa mix-up

Michiel ten Broek, a Dutch tourist who traveled to Thailand, spent two weeks in a local prison after accidentally overstaying his visa. He has now returned to the Netherlands through help of his friends. Ten Broek says he received no assistance from the Dutch embassy in the country.

The Dutchman spent five months on the Thai island of Koh Phangan to write his biography. He planned to return on May 4, and noticed just before departure that his visa had already expired. After that he went to the local immigration office where he was told to come back in three days to pay a fine for overstaying his visa.

Later, however, he was arrested and put into a jail cell. He was later moved to a prison in Chanweng, newspaper AD reported.

Ten Broek tells of terrible conditions of the prison where he was locked up. He slept on concrete floor with a blanket and slippers as cushion amid murderers and con artists. "They treat you worse than an animal," said Micheil. "You are a piece of garbage to them."

On April 29 he appeared before the judge. He had to pay 800 euros to a local lawyer and the immigration service for relocating him to the Immigration Detention Center in Bangkok, where he awaited his deportation.

In Bangkok, the Dutchman had to give up all his possessions and was not allowed a phone call. Ten Broek was kept in a cell without light, with only one hour of fresh air every three days, and no access to his heart medication.

"They let sick people die. A prisoner died because he received no medical care," ten Broek said. "Another was kicked to death by guards."

Eventually an embassy worker visited ten Broek, but denied consular service saying the prisoner as he was only expected to stay in the Thai corrections system a short period of time. The embassy worker told the Dutch citizen that diplomats only visit Dutch prisoners twice per year in Thailand.

Ten Broek resented the embassy leaving him to his own devices. "Two French inmates were visited three times by embassy workers and were free in two days," he said. "It is their job to protect compatriots and protect them from deplorable conditions."


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