Phuket: Thailand police charge local with murder of Swiss tourist near waterfall

Thai police have charged a 27-year-old man in connection with the death of a Swiss woman who was found dead near a waterfall on the resort island of Phuket last week.

The woman, 57, was identified as Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf. Police found her face down in the water covered by a black sheet.

Theerawut Tortip told reporters at a police press conference that he killed the woman and stole from her.

“I would like to apologise to the family of the tourist and plead for all Thais to forgive me,” he said.

He was detained after nearby CCTV footage showed him travelling to the waterfall around the same time Ms Sauvain-Weisskopf went there, police said.

Her death came just weeks after Thailand launched its so-called “Phuket Sandbox” scheme. She reportedly arrived in Thailand on 13 July.

Under the programme, vaccinated tourists can come to the island without the need to quarantine, but cannot travel to the mainland within 14 days.

Ms Sauvain-Weisskopf’s death has prompted local officials to step up security on the island amid concerns that it is a huge setback to the sandbox scheme.

Governor Narong Woonciew said officials would survey unsafe areas in each community and put them under surveillance.