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Australian tourist Annice Smoel 36, has been arrested for allegedly stealing a bar mat from a bar in Phuket. She claims someone put it in her bag as a joke.

She spent two nights in jail and has been released on bail, but her passport has been confiscated by the the Thai authorities. Kevin Rudd has even made a statement on the case.

"I've just been advised about this, the Foreign Minister and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are on top of this case," Rudd told reporters in Melbourne.

"They are providing every level of consular assistance to the family and the individual concerned."
The Age has more details on the story.
 

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Here is an update for the latest story.

She admitted to stealing the mat. She was in jail for 2 days, not the 4 days that was widely reported in Australia. Her fine was only $30, but the governor of phuket paid her fine and apologize for her inconvenience. After she got back to Australia, she sold her story for $20,000 and plans to take her kids to disney land. She was denied entrance to the USA and banned for 7 years for being a convicted criminal.

Ok here is my rant for all the aussie who are too stupid to think straight. I'm ashamed to be an Australian citizen because of this lady.

Are the Australians out of there mind? so it's alright to steal in a foreign country and disrespect the host country? If an outsider were to steal in Australia, should they expect the same sympathy? to be let off of the hook and give Australians bad publicity? The governor of Phuket even came to pay her fine and apologize to her for her inconvenience, which is not even necessary, talking about thai hospitality! Shame on the Australians. She even sold her story to the press, and plans to take her kids to Disney land ... yea take her kids to the Disney land for her story of trying to steal in Thailand! great example! Lets review her charges - stealing from a Aussie bar (own by an Australian), resisting arrested, attempted escape, disorderly conduct = $30 fine and 2 nights in jail ... Profit $20,000 from her story, banned from USA for 7 years, convicted criminal on her international record - Priceless

I just can't believe how selfish people from first world countries are. I have seen it all too many times where people from first world countries commit a crime in second and third world countries and expect to be let off the hook, they are quick to call in the press and their own embassy for help. They try to give the host country a bad reputation. If you look at those citizens from second and third world countries who commit a crime in first world countries, they rarely call the press, let alone try to make a publicity for the host country.

People should think and reflect 2 days in jail and $30 fine was not a harsh sentence. Her charges were stealing, resisting arrest, attempted escape, disorderly conduct (swearing and disrespecting local officers). If that were to happen in our own country, the charges would be much harsher - let alone expecting someone like a mayor go and apologize to a criminal and pay their fine.
 

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So stealing a beer mat is justified by sending someone to jail and giving them a criminal conviction now....?
It should be the Thai people who should feel ashamed here not any Australian. I mean the Thai justice system wouldn't exactly be the model for fairness and equality, there are regular human rights abuses and the basic disregard of U.N. human rights.
In fact I would go as far to say that if the Thai Government wants to treat foreign citizens with little regard for basic civil liberties then the Australian and other foreign Governments should treat Thai citizens in the same manner.

However, this would never happen, a better solution would be to restrict foreign trade and tourism between Thailand and Western countries until such time as the Thai Government learned to uphold some semblance of fairness and regard to International law within it's justice system.
 

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One thing for sure is that truths can be distorted and no doubt friends would obviously try anything to help and the bar owner who wasn't there is possibly commenting on hearsay - but having bar mats for sale could indicate theft goes on or perhaps even entices it.

There's an old saying that "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" and if the woman fled the scene and then abused the police chief, that probably didn't help the cause and any explanation by pissed friends might have also gone down like a lead balloon - a minor scene that exploded for them.

The other stand out issues in all this are
. the Aussie media, so stupid with their hand-outs and being all over something that befalls an Aussie abroad, just like whatshername [Corby]with her stash of pot going into Bali
. and then of course Kruddster, the media tart is all over it hinself as usual instead of just leaving it to relevant people.
Can't say as I can recall Howard being too public about Corby and that's how it should be.

The Thais would quite possibly be one of the few countries that have Tourism Police, uniformed officers in even far flung outposts who are there to assist tourists - I know from first hand experience and not from having done anything wrong.
And the Thais in general are a lovely friendly people as are Asians in general and yet there are many visitors who will be ignorant of their hospitality or abuse it.

In this case it would seem to be " every cloud has a silver lining but then the lining in this case may have brought another cloud with it. "
 
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