Koh Tao murders: Judge to rule on DNA retesting

Koh Tao murders: Judge to rule on DNA retesting

Defence lawyers expect the Koh Samui Provincial Court will decide on Friday whether to allow a re-examination of forensic evidence in the trial of two Burmese nationals accused of murdering two British tourists on Koh Tao.

Lawyers representing Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun have requested the re-examination at the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science.

The forensic evidence in the case involving the murders of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge had been examined by the Office of Police Forensic Science.

The autopsy was carried out at the Police General Hospital before authorities sent the bodies back to the United Kingdom.

The defence team has questioned the reliability of the investigation and evidence used against the two migrants from Burma, officially known as Myanmar.

Zaw Lin, 22, and Win Zaw Htun, 21, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Witheridge, 23, on 15 September last year.

The charges carry the maximum sentence of death.

Somsak Nurod, the chief investigator of Phangan police station, appeared before the court to discuss the defence team’s request, although he was not on the witness list on Thursday.

The jurisdiction of Phangan police station covers Koh Tao in Phangan district in Surat Thani province.

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The officer will reply on Friday in a letter about the evidence being kept by police at the station.

But he told the court that some items had already been taken during the forensic checking process.

They included two Marlboro cigarette butts, one L&M butt and a condom. Police also had about 300 cotton buds with DNA samples of the two defendants.

A shovel, sandals and flecks of sand soaked with blood remained at Phangan station, he added.

Outside the court, Pol Lt Col Somsak said.

“The DNA examination of the cigarette butts is complete.

“Of course, the items are kept appropriately,” he said. “But the DNA samples taken from the bodies are not my responsibility. They are in Bangkok.”

Teeravut Pramhun, the second deputy Samui prosecutor chief, said public prosecutors submitted a list of about 60 witnesses but the number could be reduced if they were to testify about the same events.

Meanwhile, the defence has compiled a list of about 20 witnesses.

Families of the victims and Burmese embassy representatives, other observers and foreign media attended the second day of the hearing.

For full background on this case, click HERE

 

This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post on 10 July 2015.

 

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