Court seeks missing Australian for crime trial

Other News Materials 8 October 2007 05:58

(Daily Telegraph) - A THAI court, which has heard claims that foreign crime organisations and the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle gang are taking control of the holiday island of Koh Samui , has ordered the country's top investigators to produce a missing Australian witness.

Bangkok Criminal Court judges have told the prosecution and investigators for Thailand's Department of Special Investigations to bring Australian Eric Riemsdyk to court by the end of the month.

The court wants Mr Riemsdyk , from the northern Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth, to explain a 14-page report he has prepared on foreign crime on the resort island. A DSI spokesman said Mr Riemsdyk , 44, disappeared the night before the court hearing last week after checking into a hotel near the court and then checking out again. He had been booked in by four DSI officials.

Mr Riemsdyk is the key witness in a case against Briton Crispin Paton -Smith, 44, and Dane Kim Lindegaard Neilsen , 36. They are jointly accused of being members of a secret society for extortion, the Bandidos motorcycle gang. They are also accused of extorting a property publishing business from Mr Riemsdyk .

In his dossier to DSI police colonel Dusadee Arajavuth , Mr Riemsdyk claims that Koh Samui has been taken over by foreign crime gangs. He claims they now run much of the island's real estate business and are profiting also from prostitution, drug trafficking and money laundering with the aid of corrupt local police and officials and lawyers.

Central to the crime networks, he claims, are the Bandidos and British crime syndicates. The dossier claims the gangs earn money from drug trafficking abroad, launder the cash to buy businesses on Koh Samui , and then extend their crime empires by selling drugs to young tourists in the "techno-rave dance trance market".

It claims they also exploit the 30 to 50-year-old market by selling them holiday homes at 500 per cent profit, with the gated communities on the island ideal for the syndicates to carry out their trade.

Inside such communities, he claims, residents indulge in sex and drug orgies "away from prying eyes" and are supplied with "cigars, caviar, champagne, cocaine".

Mr Riemsdyk names scores of people and companies he says are tainted. He faces libel actions because some of the companies he names are among Thailand's foremost tourism operators.

The DSI claimed two Danes - Peter Rosenbuch and Mr Neilsen - were chairman and vice-chairman of the Bandidos . It accused Mr Paton - Smith , Mr Riemsdyk and a Briton, Neil William, of being Bandido officials. It claimed Mr Riemsdyk and Mr William, who is also missing, had fled in fear for their lives.

A DSI investigator said he had meetings with Scandinavian police who told him of the power the Bandidos held in Scandinavia, using weapons such as rocket launchers in gang warfare.

However, Mr Paton -Smith, who has his own website, claims he is simply a Harley-Davison enthusiast. He is a former British soldier who was discharged after being injured in a bomb blast in Northern Ireland.

"It was a motorcycle club, nothing more," Mr Paton -Smith said. "I wanted it to be called the Koh Samui motorcycle club; somebody else wanted it called the Bandidos . It was unfortunate. The Thai investigators think we are the same."

Before his arrest, Mr Paton -Smith had launched action against Mr Riemsdyk , accusing him of stealing cash and computers from his business, a property magazine, in which they were partners.

The court was last week jammed with supporters of Mr Paton -Smith. One backer, Tim Keates from Buckinghamshire in Britain, said: "We are amazed at this case. Had Crispin been up to anything we would have known about it. He has a heart of gold and is renowned for helping tourists and expats alike."