Friday 24 November 2017

Police hunt colleague of Irish teacher beaten to death in Myanmar

Gary Ferguson was beaten to death
Gary Ferguson was beaten to death

Allan Preston

The brother of an Irish man murdered in South East Asia earlier this month has said his peace loving brother had dreamed of moving back to Northern Ireland with his wife and young son.

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

On Sunday, November 5, he was discovered dead with chest and head injuries in the city of Yangon (formerly Rangoon) at the flat of his work colleague - now murder suspect - Harris Binotti (25) from Dumfries.

His older brother Martin Ferguson told the his family, from Bangor, Co Down, can't grieve until his killer is caught.

Authorities want to speak to Peter's colleague Harris Binotti
Authorities want to speak to Peter's colleague Harris Binotti

"We're still in a lot of pain and shock. For us, we want to get to a place where we can start mourning the loss. But with this guy still on the run and still enjoying his freedom, that for us is just too hard to handle."

The night before Gary's death he had been out for an evening at a hotel in Yangon with his wife. They were joined by Binotti and his girlfriend, Elsie Devolder.

Mr Ferguson went back to Binotti's flat that night, where it's believed the two had an argument.

Neighbours said they had heard the two shouting, while the police report said that Ms Devolder had called Mr Ferguson's wife to say the two men were fighting.

One newspaper reported that when Ms Sichompor, originally from Thailand, called her husband's phone the next morning Binotti had answered, claiming that her husband was asleep.

Hours later he had fled the country, on a 4.30pm flight to Thailand.

Martin Ferguson, who now lives in Holland, said the family don't believe police in Myanmar are doing enough.

"Our main objective is to catch Harris Binotti, the guy suspected of this. We want Interpol to get involved because it's going very slow in Burma and we haven't had much information from the foreign office or British embassy," he said.

"We want justice for Gary and to make sure he's not forgotten about. The way it's going there's just no information coming out about the suspect, like has his passport been blocked?"

"All we know is that he left on a flight to Thailand - where he went from there, it seems like nobody knows."

Martin also called on the British foreign office to put more pressure on Myanmar authorities.

Gary had spoken to his older brother on the phone a number of times about Binotti, describing him as "a bit of a funny character, but not dangerous".

Martin said: "Two weeks before the murder, Gary was at a party in the apartment where the murder took place and the guy (Binotti) all of a sudden told everyone to leave.

"I can remember my brother telling me that 'out of the blue he just went a little bit crazy'."

The Ferguson family had left Bangor for Holland in 1977 to escape the Troubles. Gary was eight at the time but always kept a strong connection with Northern Ireland.

"It's so long ago, but I remember Bangor with Gary at the sea, swimming and playing about," said Martin.

"He was thinking of moving back to Northern Ireland eventually. When he had enough money, that was his future plan."

After finishing school Gary developed a love of travel.

"He loved packing the gear up and going to Australia and China," his brother said.

"Gary was a peace loving person, he was a pacifist. He hated injustice in the world, war and things like that. I could have talked with him for hours on end about world affairs. He was very concerned about how the world was going, a humanitarian."

Gary's wife and son have now moved back to Thailand, while Martin, his mother and two sisters - Donna and Rosemary - wait anxiously for any developments.

"We can't really mourn like we would like to because this guy is on our mind 24/7. Everyone keeps asking, have you heard anything, has he been caught?"

A joint family statement added that Gary would be remembered for his love of music. "Van Morrison was his guru, he would often say."

They also appealed for any information about Binotti, saying: "We as a family are asking the public to be vigilant and help find and get justice for our beloved Gary. His son of four will have to grow up without his dad, and his wife without the love and financial support that Gary provided."

Belfast Telegraph

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