A US man and his companion might face the dying penalty after they had been accused of constructing a “sea dwelling” off Thailand.
Chad Elwartowski has gone into hiding along with his girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet, after the navy mentioned they’d threatened the nation’s sovereignty.
Their dwelling, which sits atop a 20m (65ft) platform, is positioned round 12 miles (19km) off the coast of Phuket.
However Mr Elwartowski insists it’s 13 miles from the shore and due to this fact exterior of Thailand’s jurisdiction.
“The navy and its staff… discovered a concrete tank floating on the ocean however there was no-one on it,” police colonel Nikorn Somsuk informed AFP information company.
He added that the navy would meet native officers “to think about what to do subsequent”. The navy mentioned the couple had failed to hunt permission from Thailand earlier than establishing the house.
If the couple are discovered responsible of violating Thailand’s sovereignty they may face life in jail and even the dying penalty.
What did the couple do?
Mr Elwartowski reportedly labored as a software program engineer for the US army earlier than turning into an investor within the digital forex Bitcoin.
The couple belong to the so-called “seasteading” motion, which promotes the development of properties in worldwide waters in order that they don’t seem to be topic to any nation’s legal guidelines.
They’re additionally a part of Ocean Builders, a bunch of entrepreneurs who work to fund such properties.
In a video posted in February, Mr Elwartowski mentioned the neighborhood was a spot the place “freedom-loving individuals can all collect collectively and really be free”.
The disputed construction was constructed that month, however was solely found by the authorities this week.
An announcement printed on the Ocean Builders web site says the couple didn’t construct the house themselves and had been the truth is simply tenants.
“They spent a couple of weeks on the seastead and documented their journey,” it mentioned. “They had been on no account concerned within the design.”
Mr Elwartowski informed AFP that the couple had been now hiding “in a reasonably protected place”.
How widespread is that this?
The variety of properties inbuilt worldwide waters is unclear, however there are a number of examples of so-called micronations which have been constructed for related causes.
Micronations are self-declared states not recognised by governments – some of the well-known, Sealand, is predicated on an offshore platform within the North Sea. It boasts its personal flag, forex and even a soccer staff.
A number of unofficial and unrecognised micronations have additionally emerged in Australia.
These embrace Hutt River Province, a non-public property 500km north of Perth, which introduced it was seceding in 1970 in a row over what quotas. It additionally has its personal flag and forex – the Hutt River Greenback.
And the micronation of Akhzivland within the north of Israel had a inhabitants of simply two for practically half a century.
That was till its founder and president, Eli Avivi, died final 12 months aged 88.