Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Book Review: Welcome to Hell – Colin Martin

I have literally just book this book down and I can’t actually express properly the effect it has had on me. It only took me a number of hours to read it as I couldn’t put it down.
Well what the hell is it about your probably shouting at the screen. To summarise it is a storey written by an Irish man, Colin Martin, who was imprisoned in Thailand on a murder charge of which he was not guilty. His storey goes like this, Colin was a ‘normal’ bloke, working as a welder, living in Holland with his wife and children, and he got a contract for work with a company in Bangkok. This company wanted him to source men for the job, as a guarantee the company wanted bonds off Martin and his workers. They were basically scammed out of $264000. He spent the next few years trying to find the men who conned him out of this money as he was left broke, no business, and a now broken marriage. He eventually found one of the men, O’Connor, and as he was transporting him to Bangkok to have him arrested, there was a small fight with this man’s bodyguard who then ran off in to the woods. O’Connor’s wife called the police and reported to them that martin was trespassing. When the police arrive Martin explained the situation and O’Connor was arrested. When they all arrived at the police station, O’Connor accused Martin of killing his bodyguard. What happened next was shocking. They basically took O’Connor’s word for it, tortured Martin for five hours and made him sign a murder confession. He was then transported to Chanbouri prison and this is where he spent the next number of years fighting for his freedom. The conditions he details can only be described as horrendous, sub human, animal like. I simply cannot begin to imagine what he went through in his 8 years. The justice system is pretty much non-existent in Thailand so he basically had no hope from the start unless he had money to bribe his way out. How he got through it all alive is mind blowing. This was an innocent man whose life was essentially destroyed. His storey is AMAZING.

I am left shocked after reading this. To think that in this day and age people are locked up in these types of prisons without food, water, a blanket, a toothbrush is unbelievable. I visited Thailand and it is a wonderful country, but reading something like this makes you realise how vulnerable us ‘foreigners’ are and how easily your life can be turned upside down.
I understand a lot of people, me included, feel that some crimes warrant sub human treatment/conditions, but there has to be some sort of justice system that allows us find out if people are guilty or not to start with.

Martin received food packages, letters, money and medication from various people in Ireland when he was in prison. This was essentially how he stayed alive. This book has really moved me, it horrifies me to think there are other Irish men/women, and other nationalities, suffering the same fate as Colin Martin did for those 8 years. I want to find out if there is something I can do, even if it is just to write them a letter to try and raise their spirits. Is there something more I can do, I really don’t know, tell me if there is?

If you’re looking for an inspiring read, pick up this book, and count your lucky stars.

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