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Kata Bay, where the strange saga of the Merlin took place

Kata Killing: Merlin Skipper Ready to Sail

Friday, July 11, 2008
TRENDS
THE Swiss sailor involved in the bizarre saga of the boat invasion and the body in the water finally has his passport back and is free to leave Thailand.

For Pierre-Alain Oberson, it has been a strange six months in limbo, waiting. The mystery at sea in which he played a central role gripped expats on the island.

What was the real story, the whole story?

Eventually, police must have decided that the Kata killing was self-defence because Oberson's passport was returned on July 7. The incident took place on January 9.

''I still don't know why it happened,'' Oberson told Phuketwan. ''At times, I still find it all hard to believe.''

A German named Peter Schmid arrived late that night in a wetsuit and carrying a bag, swimming out to Oberson's boat, the Merlin, anchored in Kata Bay.

Spotted in the water and invited on board, Schmid joined Oberson and a Thai friend, 24-year-old Porntip Pradit, on the Merlin.

The men drank beer and smoked then, when told it was time for him to leave, Schmid pulled a knife, a homemade gun and tape from his bag.

He planned to have Porntip tie up Oberson. In the fight that followed, Schmid stabbed Oberson and fired the gun.

Oberson slashed Schmidt with a boat hook.

The German was last seen in the water, apparently swimming away. Police were called and Oberson was treated for his wounds.

Schmid, 35, was found floating in the water, dead from blood loss.

One friend later described him as ''a gentle person.''

Oberson, 50, told Phuketwan this week that, six months on, he knew no more about the mysterious Schmid, other than that he was suffering from stomach cancer.

Oberson is still mystified by the events of the night and looking forward to working as a boat builder in Europe again to restore his finances.

He plans to sail the Merlin from Chalong to Langkawi in Malaysia where long-term docking is simpler, then fly north for a reunion with his wife and two children.

The one odd benefit of his six months in limbo: not having to do long visa runs.

Oberson is set to resume a normal life. The mystery of that night on the Merlin remains. And the sea seldom parts with its secrets.

ECONOMY Watch: Pawn It Phuket
A RECORD number of people are cashing in items at Phuket pawn shops, highlighting the economic overload that is hurting some on the island.

In June, almost 5000 people sought temporary loans from the Phuket City official pawn shop, says Somjai Suwannasupapana, president of the Phuket City Tessaban.

Such was the need for instant cash that the tessaban had to allocate an extra 40 million baht. In the first six months of 2008, a total of 27,056 loans were made involving 331,734,200 baht.

But June was the record, with 4898 people lining up to collect 63,355,300 baht. That's about 160 people every day.

Khun Somjai believes July will be equally as bad as June for people needing extra money. The tessaban may have to borrow money from the banks to meet requirements.

From 9am on July 12, unclaimed items will be auctioned at the tessaban pawnshop.

Gold necklaces and rings, mobile telephones, DVD players, television sets, watches and computers are the items most people hock when they need quick money.

The tessaban pawn shop is in Komarathat Road, which runs between Thepkasattri Road and Yaowarat Road, near Wittayasatit School.

Protests, Minister Quits
A SERIES of protests were held on Phuket on July 10 over the stand taken by Thailand on the registration of Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site. Cambodia lays claim to the temple.

A group of about 80 yellow-shirted protestors chanted loudly outside the Phuket Provincial Hall and planned an evening of more activities at Saphan Hin public park in Phuket City.

The protestors must have been heard all the way north to Bangkok.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama announced his resignation that afternoon, latest in the series of senior government figures to fall.

Look for the latest in TRENDS each Monday to Friday at Phuketwan.

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Sunday October 17, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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