A twelve-year old Swedish boy who survived the Asian tsunami may have been kidnapped, police say.
Kristian Walker was last seen with an unknown man at a hospital in Khao Lak, one of the worst-hit towns in Thailand, his father Dan Walker told Swedish television.
Kristian, his brother David and his sister Anna were on holiday in Thailand with their mother and her boyfriend, when the tsunami struck. Kristian’s siblings survived the disaster, but his mother Madeleine Walker and her boyfriend Carl-Axel von Platen are still missing.
Witnesses at the hospital in Khao Lak say that Kristian also survived, and that he had been to the hospital, where he had been treated for cuts and bruises. Doctor Kampongsree Somprutthana told Expressen that she had seen Kristian in the hospital two days in a row. She said he was accompanied by a man, whom she described as European in appearance, with a moustache and wearing a red shirt.
The possibility that Kristian had been abducted was raised when Dan Walker and his father travelled to Phuket after the disaster:
“We went round the hospital with pictures of Kristian,” he told Dagens Nyheter, “The staff are certain [that they recognize him]. But unfortunately written records of his treatment were not saved.”
Seven Swedish police officers are travelling to Thailand to help their Thai counterparts. Thord Modin, chief analyst at the National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalpolisen), said officers would try to identify exactly what had happened: “Has he really been at the hospital? We want proof,” he told TT, adding that police had already started work on the case, and had been speaking to hospital staff on the phone.
Dan Walker says that his greatest fear is that Kristian has been taken out of the country: “When we talked with Interpol’s trafficking department, they said that they were expecting children to disappear from the country amid all the chaos.” Indeed, Svenska Dagbladet reported that concerns had been raised that Italian and Austrian children had been kidnapped.
But police were still holding out hope that they were not dealing with a kidnapping. Thord Modin argued that some of the facts appeared not to add up:
“Would a person who wanted to abduct a child take him to hospital twice if his injuries were slight?” he asked.