Belfast Telegraph

Murdered NI man's brother hits out at failure to arrest suspect

By Brett Campbell

The brother of a Co Down teacher who was beaten to death in south east Asia has made a desperate plea for justice amid confusion over a police claim they still can't arrest the suspected killer.

The brother of Gary Ferguson, whose battered body was found in a Myanmar apartment in November last year, has told the Belfast Telegraph "it's like my brother never existed".

Martin Ferguson described how the horrific ordeal and ongoing failure of authorities to act has taken a toll on his entire family.

"It's a mystery to us, we are so frustrated because we don't understand what is going on," he said.

"We have been left clueless as to why Police Scotland cannot arrest a British citizen suspected of murdering another British citizen.

"It's terrible the way we are being treated. My sister has just been released from hospital and my mother has been in and out several times now over all of this."

Harris Binotti (26), from Dumfries in Scotland, was named as the chief suspect within hours of Gary's lifeless body being discovered by his Thai wife Supatchaya Sichompor.

Binotti quickly fled Myanmar and became the subject of an international manhunt.

But after a red alert - instructing forces to locate and provisionally arrest him pending extradition - was issued by Interpol in April, the suspect was located in his home country.

The victim's family, including his widow and five-year-old son Jeremy, were horrified when it emerged that Binotti was living less than a mile from a main police station in the Ibrox area of Glasgow.

"It was unbelievable," Martin said. "How long did UK authorities know he was there? They have never answered that."

The computer technician, who has lived in the Netherlands since 1977, described the fact that no arrest has been made as inexplicable.

Yesterday Police Scotland insisted to this newspaper that it had "no authority" to apprehend the fugitive, a claim first made in April.

"We continually monitor any ongoing risk and take all appropriate measures," it said.

The distraught father-of-three has slammed the police force and the Home Office for causing further heartache by refusing to provide any information or answer basic questions about the case.

"This appalling event has changed our lives forever because we wake up with it in the morning and we take it to bed again at night - there's no end to it," Martin explained.

"All anyone has ever told us is that it's not their responsibility, no one seems to know what they are doing.

"We have been left out in the cold and it's heartbreaking, they have no consideration for what this family are going through."

He has been left dismayed by the secrecy and confusion surrounding the investigation.

"Why is the legal system cloaked in secrecy, who is protecting him and why are they doing it?" he asked.

"It's mind boggling."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the Belfast Telegraph it continues "to do all we can to help and support the family of Mr Ferguson at this difficult time".

Martin described the support given to date as "little to nothing".

"We appreciate their sympathy, but as a family we need actions and not words," he added.

"Is there no one in the whole of Britain who can stand up and defend the rights of one of its citizens who was brutally battered to death, leaving a son and wife behind who have no means of financial security."

The Crown Office said it was aware that the matter was being investigated by the Myanmar authorities and it was for them to comment on any extradition request.

But the Belfast Telegraph understands the issue is now a matter for domestic UK law enforcement.

The Home Office would neither confirm nor deny that an extradition request had been received, but Martin vowed his family will "never rest and never stand down" until the Government does its job and sends the suspected killer to Myanmar to face justice, for the sake and health of our bereaved family.

"My brother's ashes and memories are all we have left," he said.

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