A 94-year-old Australian man facing pedophile charges in Thailand has died while awaiting trial.
German-born Karl Joseph Kraus, from Western Australia, was suffering from prostate cancer and dementia when he died on Thursday, four years after his arrest on charges of sexually assaulting four Thai girls at his home near the northern city of Chiang Mai.
Kraus had been giving English lessons to the girls, aged five to 15.
Chiang Mai-based legal sources told AAP that Kraus’s lawyer had been preparing to appeal his detention on the basis of declining health and memory loss.
The sources said Kraus was expected to be released because of his inability to make a plea and it was likely he would have been deported to Australia.
At the time of his arrest in June 2010, police investigators said they had found more than 100 photos of naked children on the hard drive of his computer. Kraus was subsequently charged with rape and sexual assault.
In his earlier court appearances, Kraus pleaded not guilty and was released on 400,000 baht (A$13,300) bail and had his passport confiscated.
But in mid-2012, after procuring new travel documents, he fled to Myanmar.
A month later he was arrested by Myanmar authorities in the eastern Karen state capital of Pa-an and returned to Thailand.
Back in Thailand, Kraus appeared “frail and dishevelled” and was held at a local hospital instead of a prison cell.
Under Thai law, child sexual assault carries a punishment of 20 years in jail.