Updated: Where’s Wally? II

9 04 2020

PPT stopped following the king after his short stopover in the country he supposed to reign over when his taxpayer-funded Thai Airways flight landed back in Zurich. We should probably have been more diligent. Fortunately, royal sleuth Andrew MacGregor Marshall has been following and has several more informative posts.

Most importantly, he alerted the world to some very disturbing events at Zurich airport, where a photographer contracted by teh German newspaper BILD was detained and assaulted by Zurich Cantonment police at the airport as he tried to photograph the arriving TG flight on 7 April.

BILD has the report in English, with the video that recorded the events. Unfortunately, its behind a paywall.

Swiss tabloid Blick has also raised questions and seems to get no response from the authorities. It also has the video and it is available. A rough translation of this article is:

Claudio M. just wanted to take pictures of the Thai king – then came the Kapo [Cantonment Police]
Brutal arrest at Zurich Airport
The Zurich Cantonal Police have arrested a photographer. He wanted to photograph the king of Thailand at Zurich airport, who landed despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Explosive: The photographer’s video camera ran with the arrest – BLICK shows it here [link to the video].

King Vajiralongkorn (67) of Thailand is not a fan of freedom of the press. While his people are suffering from the Corona crisis, the 67-year-old cheerfully jets his harem back and forth between Bangkok, Zurich and Bavaria. Because he is repeatedly criticized for this, the trips must be hidden from critical journalists. It’s not a problem in Thailand. And in Switzerland, too, the heavy-handed monarch found an ally for the intimidation of photographers: the Zurich Cantonal Police.

Yesterday the king used Zurich Airport again. The German “Bild” newspaper hired Swiss photographer Claudio M. , who also photographs regularly for BLICK. He was positioned in a publicly accessible area of ​​the airport and took pictures of the king’s jet, as he’d often done before.

The king’s employees order Kapo Zurich

This time, however, the Thai king apparently didn’t like it: “The king’s security officers started taking pictures of me. I saw her talking on the phone excitedly,” explains the photographer. Then the Zurich police come into play with a squad of six officers.

The cantonal police officers wanted to prevent Claudio from taking pictures. He declares that he is a journalist: “I will give you my ID,” he offers. And further: “I take photos of the king for the media.” And Claudio continues to take pictures of the aircraft. And he warns the police about freedom of the press. A video camera runs, documenting what follows.

Before just one picture of the Thai king is shot, police officer Lopez [anonymized] handcuffs the photographer and twists his arm. “You are hurting me,” cries the photographer, who offered no resistance. “It’s your own fault if it hurts,” the police officer says clearly in the video, while the journalist cries out in pain.

As an excuse, the police waive the parking fees

“In the interview room, they told me that the Thai king’s entourage triggered the police operation,” said the photographer. The following is a list of allegations to Claudio, none of which could be corroborated or true: the photographer broke a door, could even be a terrorist, and wanted to avoid police control. The next day, the Kapo press office knew nothing of the initial allegation that Claudio had been in a cordoned-off area of ​​the airport.

When the officers understand that there is no wrongdoing, they waive the parking fees for the photographer. “Before that, however, they sifted through my photos, probably to make sure there was really no picture of the king,” says Claudio.

In the meantime, the German “Bild” newspaper has reported on the Rambo style of the Zurich police.

No response from the police

At Kapo Zurich, people react extremely cautiously to inquiries. BLICK asks: Is Kapo Zurich working for a foreign monarch? Did you actually see the photos? On what legal basis was press freedom undermined? Why are parking fees waived for the photographer?

There is no response from the cantonal police press office. Instead, it issued a bland statement: “A person who claimed to be a media official opposed person control by the police and was therefore arrested.” And spokesman Werner Schaub threatens to take legal action if the police involved in the operation are identified in the report….

It seems that authoritarianism is spreading faster than the virus. But who would have thought that democratic Switzerland would engage in such action. As happens too often, we can probably expect a cover-up.

Meanwhile, it has to be said that the whereabouts of the king, queen and entourage are now unknown. Allowing the king and hanger-on to make a getaway to a quieter location seems to be the point of the nasty actions at Zurich airport.

Update: We still can’t find any confirmed details on the king’s whereabouts nor any information on flights by “Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn 904 VMS904.” However, The Times claims he has returned to his luxury hotel in the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The only flight details we can locate are for one of the king’s planes, HS-HMK which on 10 April flew from Munich to Baden Airpark, turned around and flew back, looking like a training flight. This is a Boeing 737-800 that was purchased by the Air Force and apparently transferred/given to the king in early 2017.



2 responses

10 04 2020
Nepotism in Bangkok | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] we mentioned in a previous post, authoritarianism seems to be spreading faster than the virus. The latest diktat issued in Bangkok […]

14 04 2020
Thailand’s Kibosh | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Vajiralongkorn is now a spirit that haunts Thailand. While most believe the king is not in-country, having returned to Switzerland and then, presumably, Germany, for the regime, it is as if he remains, a kind of phantom […]

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