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A Burmese legal team has submitted to the Lawyers Council of Thailand a document outlining what it says was Thai investigators’ mishandling of evidence in the case of a 2014 double murder on the resort island of Koh Tao that was pinned on two Burmese migrant workers now facing death row.
“The law and criminal affairs experts’ group led by the director-general of the Union Attorney General’s Office, Khin Cho Ohn, submitted a seven-page document of 18 points, which especially highlighted questionable [handling of] DNA evidence, to the Lawyers Council of Thailand on 5 June,” said Aung Myo Thant, a legal adviser at the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok.
“Matters regarding DNA evidence were especially emphasised. There was much mishandling of evidence. When a garden hoe — the plaintiff’s evidence believed to be the murder weapon in the case — was inspected, the DNA of the two accused Burmese boys was not found but [the DNA] of two others was. However, the plaintiff did not seek additional suspects,” he explained.
Aung Myo Thant said other inconsistencies related to DNA evidence would help bolster the case for having the Burmese pair’s convictions overturned.
“The Lawyers Council of Thailand received the findings and will make necessary amendments. Before 23 June, the appeal will be brought to Thailand’s supreme court,” he said.
The accused, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, were sentenced to death by a Thai court in December 2015 and an appeal of their convictions was rejected by an appeals court, leading the defence team to take the case to Thailand’s highest tribunal. The badly beaten bodies of British tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were discovered on a Koh Tao beach in September 2014.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, both also in their 20s, were detained the following month and the ensuing prosecution was dogged by controversy from the outset as Thai investigators were accused of improprieties including mishandling evidence and torturing the suspects during interrogation.