An Australian man facing two life jail sentences in Thailand for drugs possession has been transferred to a top security jail where prisoners on death row are also held.
Lawyers for Jake Mastroianni, 26, who had been a popular DJ in his hometown in Melbourne, say they’ve been making slow progress in efforts to transfer him to an Australian jail.
Mastroianni was arrested in August 2014 at the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya, 150 kilometres from Bangkok, where he worked as a DJ at the Sapphire Club, along with 28 year old Briton Lance Whitmore.
Both were detained for possession of ecstasy pills, with Whitmore charged with possession of 200 pills. A police search of Mastroianni’s Thai girlfriend’s apartment in Pattaya uncovered a further 61 pills.
The men were charged with acting as a criminal organisation.
Whitmore pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 50 years jail. Mastroianni was sentenced to two life terms after pleading not guilty.
In September last year a Thai court of appeal rejected a plea for a reduced sentence for Mastroianni.
Nathan Feeney, Mastroianni’s lawyer, says authorities have provided no reasons for the Australian’s transfer to Bangkwan prison in Nonthaburi province outside Bangkok.
“The move was unexpected because everyone who we spoke to at the prison where he was – Klong Prem – said that he would not be moved anytime soon,” he said.
The move came amid hopes Mastroianni and 24 other Australians serving jail terms in Thailand might qualify for sentence reductions or early release after Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn announced an amnesty for 150,000 prisoners in December.
But Feeney admits he is not optimistic. “Currently we don’t think Mastroianni will receive any reduction. We are hoping that is not the case. But at this point we don’t expect him to receive any reduction in sentence from the amnesty,” he told AAP.
He said talks were underway with Australian authorities, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, as well as the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s Office and Thai Department of Corrections, to enable Mastroianni to qualify for transfer to an Australian jail.
“We will be drafting letters to His Majesty the King (Vajiralongkorn) for certain reductions,” he said.
“(But) it’s going to be a long process to get him transferred in under eight years,” he said.