Brit and Singaporean trapped in Thai court case can leave

Published:  14 Feb at 6 PM
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Two businessmen trapped in Thailand for three years due to a vindictive ex-landlord can now leave the country.

Lee Chestnutt and his Singaporean partner Jaffrey Maharan had brought their furniture export business to Thailand and rented accommodation large enough to store purchased stock until it could be exported to clients. At first, their business went well but, following the financial crash in 2008, orders declined and they were forced to give up their tenancy and close down.

To their surprise, their landlord claimed in court that the property had been damaged and that the duo had stolen fixtures and fittings when they left. At that point, their passports were confiscated, leaving them unable to return to their home countries.

As is the Thai way, the case took a long time to come to court, and the verdict exonerated the two men. Immediately, the former landlord submitted an appeal, which again prevented the pair from leaving the country.

The case had dragged on for almost three years until the end of 2012, when again the pair were declared innocent and the case was dropped, Just as they were preparing to spend Christmas in their home countries, Chestnutt and Maharan were hit again by the landlord, who lodged yet another appeal.

However, his appeal was lodged after the 30-day window allowed by the court, which finally refused his request to extend the time and allow the appeal. Last Monday, the two were officially informed that the case was finally closed and that they were free to leave the country.

The two former entrepreneurs are overjoyed and looking forward to leaving and never returning. Unfortunately, they will have to pay the maximum overstay fee of 20,000 baht, as their passports were in police custody and they were unable to renew their visas.
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