Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rapists, Killers, and Pachyderms But Not Joe Gordon

Ambassador Kristie Kenny is a public servant.  But who does she serve?

When she was ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenny was directly involved in the Subic Bay Marine Rape Case Fix

Nicole (not her real name), was a 22-year old management accounting graduate in the Philippines, when just before midnight of 1 November 2005, was plied with drink and God knows what else in a bar, shoved into a van, and raped inside by US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith while his four buddies egged him on with cries of 'F__k! F__k! F__k!'

Later, she was lifted out of the van by her hands and feet by two men like a pig and deposited on the pavement.  She had on only a shirt and a panty, with a condom still sticking to her panty.  Someone from the van threw a pair of pants in her direction, and the van drove off.

On December 4, 2006, Judge Benjamin Pozon of Branch 139 of the Makati Regional Trial Court convicted and sentenced Smith, committing him temporarily to the Makati City Jail.
Daniel Smith
However, Smith was spirited out of the Makati City jail and brought to the US Embassy by virtue of a “deal” made by Ambassador Kenney.  Smith stayed comfortably ensconced in the US Embassy and the case dropped out of the headlines.  But, in a bombshell development in February 2009, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that Smith must be held in custody in a Philippine prison, and quashed Kenny’s deal allowing him to be “detained” at the Embassy.

Suddenly the whole issue was very much back in the headlines and causing all sorts of problems for both governments and their cozy military relationship.  It became imperative that yet another deal had to be done to allow business to proceed as normal.  Lo and behold, in March 2009 Nicole filed an affidavit recanting her testimony and withdrawing her accusation of rape against Smith, saying that the sex had been consensual.  Never mind that the affidavit didn’t sound like she’d written it or that it was first made public by one of Smith’s lawyers.  She then promptly left for the US with $2000 “compensation” using a hard to get US visa courtesy of the US Embassy.  

As ambassador, Kenny utilized all legal and political means available to protect and absolve Smith. That Kenny debauched justice by surreptitiously transferring Smith to the US Embassy after his conviction and then “arranging” an agreement by the victim to recant her testimony should be enough proof of the limits that the ambassador can go to in order to help an American in trouble. 

More recently, in Thailand is the criminal case of Ronald Fanelli aka the “Mad Yank”. 

Ronald Fanelli
He was convicted for the stabbing murder of bar hostess Wanphen Pienjai last year in Phuket. Wanphen was the mother of two children. Her daughter, named Farm, was 3 years old. Her son Iang is in the sixth grade. She was financially supporting her partially blind mother who is now charged with taking care of Wanphen’s two children without any form of financial support since Wanphen was an only child.

Wanphen Pienjai and her daughter
During his trial, Fanelli confessed to killing Wanphen by stabbing her, but said it was an “accident”.  Fanelli then stuffed Wanphen body into a large suitcase – posthumously breaking both of her legs so he could fold them into the luggage.  He kept the body in the room for two days before transporting it by motorbike to a remote part of Wichit several kilometers from his rented home and dumping it.

Prosecutor Permgiat Bumrung said that the US embassy had filed a letter to the court through the defense lawyer.  “The US Embassy explained in the letter that Fanelli is a former Marine who served in Afghanistan for several years. He killed many people during his tour of duty, and this could well have affected his behavior,” he said.

It is remarkable that the Embassy’s plea for leniency is based upon Fanelli’s US military training turning him into a “killing machine.” It would be even more remarkable if it were true. Fanelli was not a “former Marine who killed many people in Afghanistan” but rather a former US Navy lieutenant who served aboard the USS Nevada a submarine.” Fighting the Taliban in land-locked Afghanistan using submarines is quite a stretch – even for a Thai court. Nevertheless, Fanelli’s murder sentence was reduced to 10 years and 3 months partly based upon a lie from the US embassy.

Then there is the case of Ambika.  Ambika is an Asian elephant residing at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park in Washington.  Last month (March 12) Ambassador Kenny took time from her busy twittering schedule to come to the US for a photo op at the National Zoo’s elephant complex in honor of National Thai Elephant Day. 

Ambassador Kenny with Ambika and the National Zoo's Elephant Manager  
I’m sure the zoo does good work with Asian elephants and other endangered species and a visit by Ambassador Kenny is great publicity but wouldn’t the publicity generated by a high profile visit by Ambassador Kenny to imprisoned American citizen Joe Gordon be great too?  

Joe has been in a Thai prison for over 10 months for something he did in the US – translating part of the book “The King Never Smiles” and providing a link to that book on the internet.  

Joe’s prison cell is much closer to the US embassy in Bangkok than the elephant compound at the National Zoo in Washington yet Ambassador Kenny has yet to make the time or effort to visit him.  Joe is not a rapist, murderer, or an elephant.  He is a decent man and an American citizen deserving of more help than what the US embassy in Thailand has offered him so far.

If our ambassador finally gets around to visiting Joe, perhaps she could bring along Tharit Pengdit, head of the Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) which arrested him.  They can entertain him and the rest of the lese majeste prisoners with their imitation of the comedy team of “Laurel and Hardy.” 

Keeping people in prison for expressing their views is obviously a joke to both an American ambassador and a Thai thug.  It’s not funny to us.  

There is a saying that "elephants never forget".  Well, neither do we!

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