Koh Tao murders: Defence label witness testimonies ‘inconsistent’

Koh Tao murders: Defence label witness testimonies ‘inconsistent’

A lawyer representing two Burmese migrant workers standing accused of murder in Thailand said that the testimonies given by prosecution witnesses on Wednesday were inconsistent.

Speaking to DVB on Wednesday evening, Aung Myo Thant said, “Four prosecution witnesses testified at the trial today: a police lieutenant, a forensic doctor, the brother of the Koh Tao island headman and his friend. In summary, none of them could precisely say that the two Burmese youngsters committed the murder. Their testimonies were also inconsistent.”

He said that the police lieutenant provided the court his account on how he went to inspect the crime scene. He was followed in court by the headman’s brother, who owns a nearby bar, who testified that he informed the police after his employees told him they had discovered the bodies of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on the beach. He added that his chef went out and picked up the suspects’ guitar, which he handed over to police.

According to Sein Htay, chairman of the Thailand-based Migrant Worker Rights Network who attended the hearing on Wednesday, defence attorneys from the Lawyers Council of Thailand cross-examined the witnesses. He noted that some of their responses were inconsistent and said that none could confirm that they witnessed the two suspects committing the crime.

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Brought to trial on the island of Koh Samui with shackles on their legs, the two suspects in the case, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun (a.k.a. Wai Phyo), both aged 21 from Kyaukphyu in Arakan State, initially confessed to the murders of British backpackers Miller and Witheridge in the early hours of 15 September 2014 on a beach on the popular holiday resort of Koh Tao. Witheridge was also raped.

But the pair later retracted their statements, saying they were tortured and threatened by Thai police officers into confessing.

Sein Htay said the court was told on Wednesday that a Burmese migrant woman was the first person to find the battered and lifeless bodies of the two British tourists, but that she has already left Thailand.

He said that the defence team requested a re-examination of the forensic evidence presented by the prosecutors. In response, he said, the judge called for the police officer in charge of evidence to be summoned.

“The judge said he would coordinate with the police officer in charge, and that if those negotiations were successful, there might be an opportunity to re-test the DNA samples,” Sein Htay said.

Koh Samui court is set for more prosecution witness hearings on 9 and 10 July. The hearing on Wednesday lasted from 9:30am until 8pm, and was attended by the families of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge.

 

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