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Koh Samui Provincial Court in southern Thailand on Saturday concluded with the testimony of Win Zaw Htun (a.k.a. Wai Phyu), one of two Burmese migrants who stand accused of the murder of British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on the resort island of Koh Tao in Thailand last year.
According to Andy Hall, a British rights activist at the court, Win Zaw Htun claimed he was sexually abused by Thai police officers and forced to confess.
“Importantly, [Win Zaw Htun] yesterday pointed out in court, based on still video images, two of the police officers he alleges tortured/abused him,” he wrote online. “One is apparently a senior Thai police officer.”
British media carried several reports of the trial this weekend, each alluding to Win Zaw Htun’s statement that he was stripped naked and “flicked very hard” in the groin by police as they tried to extract a confession from him.
Aung Myo Thant, a Burmese lawyer for the defence team, said the court has set a date of 24 December for its verdict.
Also present at Saturday’s hearing were the mothers of the Arakanese youngsters on trial.
May Thein, mother of Win Zaw Htun, reiterated that her 22-year-old son was tortured and forced to confess by Thai police.
“They beat him [Win Zaw Htun] and punched him, forcing a confession out of him after he denied committing the crime,” she told DVB by telephone. “Then they beat him up some more and left him in a cold room.”
Phyu Chay Nu, the mother of suspect Zaw Linn, said she will take her son back to Burma when he is proved innocence.
“I’ll take him back home when he is released from custody,” she said.
On 15 September 2014, backpackers Witheridge and Miller were bludgeoned to death on Sairee Beach on Koh Tao. Witheridge had also been raped. Burmese migrants Zaw Linn and Win Zaw Htun were arrested two weeks later by Thai police and quickly charged with the crimes.
Though severely criticised for their handling of the case, Thai police have maintained throughout that the pair were not tortured and that DNA evidence proves their guilt.
However, a noted forensics expert has since cast doubt on the credibility of the DNA, citing a contaminated crime scene.
Hall, who has been assisting the defence team, posted to social media on Monday: “[It] seems to me personally, to reiterate again, that the only significant evidence directly linking the two accused, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, to the murders is the police DNA results … So the verdict seems to me (personal opinion, based on what I have seen) to come down to the court’s position on the reliability of the police DNA evidence/results … and the reliability of the torture allegations in explaining the original confessions [of the accused].”
Read more about the Koh Tao murder trial