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Situation worsens for San Diego couple jailed in Bangkok says local commissioner

Travis Dasilva and Joseph Dasilva could face up to 5 years in jail.
Photo credit:
Bangkok Post

A social media photo project has become an international nightmare for Travis Dasilva and Joseph Dasilva of San Diego who exposed their backsides at a sacred temple in Bangkok.

The stunt has resulted in international coverage, and San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez speaking to US and Thai officials to see what awaits the men in court.

Murray-Ramirez says he has been working with some government officials both stateside and abroad while the men are incarcerated.

The Dasilvas confessed to the exposing themselves and were given a fine on Tuesday. But now the government wants to add taking naked photos at a religious site and violating a computer crime law which prohibits online pornography, to the list of charges. 

“Our main priority right now is to make sure that they’re treated well,” said Murray-Ramirez. “Sadly, this has become an international incident of bad behavior; it’s made the headlines not only in Thailand but in countries where there is a majority of Buddhist population and all over the world.”

He says the main concern is the country’s court system. “Because in Thailand they will be facing not a jury, but a panel of three judges.”

Information was given to Murray-Ramirez by a gay activist in Thailand who reached out to him but wishes to remain anonymous.

“An attorney is not guaranteed to them,” the activist told him, “If they hire an attorney that is all well and good, but an attorney is not provided, they could go into court without one.”

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News discovered that Thai police have up to 48 hours without judicial review. After that, you are either released or taken before a judge where they will decide to release you or send you back to jail for up to 12 days during the investigation. 

Also, plea bargaining is not often done in Thailand, “let alone in an international case such as this,” Murray-Ramirez adds. “They don’t think that there will be that much room for negotiating because it has become an international incident.”

And there is more. Thai culture and their judicial system respond well to people who show remorse and compunction Murray-Ramirez says, but the men don't appear sad in the initial photos and the ones after their arrest. 

“Their pictures show them smiling and having a good time and that, of course, is damaging, it’s almost as if they’ve given the court evidence to use against them. Obviously, the judicial system and the Thai government have found out about their Twitter account and other pictures that have been posted to social media.”

Murray-Ramirez says all he can hope for at this point is to make sure our embassy is actively involved and looking into their treatment and hopefully they’ll get due process.

“Honestly, we are concerned about the years they are facing in prison, but at the same time, they have sadly projected a stereotype of what many people feel is typical of American tourists. This has turned into a very difficult case and an international case and this does not bode well for them.”

Even though Murray-Ramirez doesn’t believe this is a civil rights issue, he is still going to help them in any way he can.

“My self and others are going to continue to do our best to intercede to see if there’s any way that we can assist and help them, and we have some good people in good places who are looking into this not only in the United States but in Thailand.”

Read also: Local married gay couple arrested in Bangkok for exposing buttocks at a temple