Sunday 22 September 2019

Plea for justice as dad's killer remains free one year on

Martin Ferguson, brother of Gary
Martin Ferguson, brother of Gary

Allan Preston

The family of a man murdered in Myanmar claim the their pleas for help in bringing the chief suspect to justice have been ignored.

Gary Ferguson, who was from Bangor in Co Down, was killed on November 5 last year, but the man wanted in connection over his death is believed to be living in the UK.

Harris Binotti, a 26-year-old teacher from Dumfries in Scotland, fled the city of Yangon, hours after his colleague Mr Ferguson was beaten to death after a night out.

The Ferguson family wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd two months ago asking her to intervene - but have yet to receive a response.

On the eve of the first anniversary of Mr Ferguson's murder, his brother Martin appealed for assistance in securing justice.

Mr Ferguson, a 47-year-old English teacher, was living in Myanmar (formerly Burma) with his wife Supatchaya Sichompor and four-year-old son Jeremy.

He was found dead with head and chest wounds in Yangon.

After his concerned wife couldn't reach him, his body was found in Mr Binotti's flat on November 6.

For months, Mr Ferguson's family believed Mr Binotti had gone on the run in Thailand, but in April it was reported he was back in Glasgow, living with his girlfriend and working in a call centre under an assumed name.

At the same time, Interpol issued a red notice - an international alert for a wanted person - on Mr Binotti.

Despite this, Scottish police said they had "no authority" to arrest a suspect identified in an Interpol alert and said the Myanmar authorities have the lead.

However, no extradition treaty exists between the UK and Myanmar.

The distraught Ferguson family wrote to Amber Rudd in September but have not received a reply.

Martin Ferguson said: "We'd like her (Ms Rudd) to do her duty and get this finished and over with. We want to be able to go on with our lives. There's a lot of people affected by this.

"My relationship with my children is affected, they can see what it's doing to all of us. It's just getting harder and harder.

"It's the Government we're relying on to put an end to all of this. By not acting they're keeping the family in pain."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "As a matter of long-standing policy and practice, the UK will neither confirm nor deny that an extradition request has been made or received until such time as an arrest has been made in relation to that request."

Mr Ferguson added: "I think the UK authorities are worried about the death penalty in Myanmar, so they'll never extradite someone who could possibly be executed.

"We haven't got a clue what's going on. All that we get is that until an arrest has been made we can't be given specific details so until then we're just sitting with the lights out."

Mr Ferguson said the family was deeply shocked to find out Mr Binotti was living in Glasgow, adding that the apparent lack of progress was deeply hurtful.

"Shortly after Gary's death, we had a search going on, believing Binotti was still in Asia.

"But I believe the Home Office knew he came back soon after to Scotland and didn't disclose it until the red notice was put out and one of Binotti's work colleagues in Glasgow notified a newspaper in Scotland."

He added: "If it wasn't for that colleague we still wouldn't know any better.

"It just seems to get harder for Gary's wife (Supatchaya Sichompor) and son Jeremy. They're still living on what we can provide for them," he said.

"That's very hard for them financially as Gary was the sole provider."

He added: "We can't rest until Binotti's apprehended. Psychologically, it's just damaged us all."

Martin said the family would all be thinking of Gary on the anniversary of his death, but said holding any formal ceremony would be too distressing.

Belfast Telegraph

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