Jake Mastroianni, a 26-year old from Melbourne, was a DJ on the Pattaya party circuit in Thailand in August, 2014 when he was arrested for possession and intent to sell over two hundred pills of ecstasy alongside another aussie, Lance Whitmore. They were thrown into a norotious prison known as the 'Bangkok Hilton,' with Mastroianni in particular recieving a draconian penalty of two life sentences.
"It's worse than a POW camp…there are cockroaches everywhere and they feed the prisoners rotten rice and fish heads," said Lance's father Russell Whitmore. Mastroianni came up in the news again last week when it became known that he had been moved to an even more morose prison, Bang Kwang Prison in northern Bangkok. It is known as ‘The Big Tiger’ because of its tendency to “eat” those who face it. Bang Kwang is also the home to Thailand’s death row inmates.
Mastroainni (left), and Whitmore (right)
Details of the incident that resulted in Mastroianni’s incarceration put forward by his lawyer Nathan Feeney suggest that he has been wrongfully saddled with the crime.
According to Feeney, no drugs were found on Mastroianni or in any of his belongings. Whitmore was arrested in possession of 200 pills at a local supermarket, whereas Mastroainni was arrested while at his girlfriend’s apartment, a Thai woman who was not charged, where a further 61 pills were found. The cases were tried together, rendering them a “criminal organization,” although Mastroianni’s involvement seems circumstantial.
Mr Feeney said he was "mystified" by the police’s action and has referred to it as a procedural blunder. After pleading 'not guilty,' Mastroianni was handed a more severe penalty than Whitmore, who will be in Thai prison for 50 years.
In September, a Thai court rejected an appeal for a reduced sentence for Mastroianni, his lawyer Nathan Feeney has stated that they are not confident of bringing him back to an Australian jail in the near future.
Mastroianni’s only real hope at the moment is that new Thai King Maha Vajiralonkorn announced an amnesty for 150,000 prisoners in December, so there is hope of a royal pardon. But for now, as Mastroainni sits in Bangkok’s bleakest penitentiary, that is only a hope.
“We will be drafting letters to His Majesty the King (Vajiralongkorn) for certain reductions,” said Feeney. “(But) it’s going to be a long process to get him transferred in under eight years,” he added.Prisoners who receive a life sentence in Thailand must serve eight years before being eligible for a transfer.