Police tried to manipulate Koh Tao witness, court told

Police tried to manipulate Koh Tao witness, court told

Police on Koh Tao tried to persuade a witness at the Witheridge-Miller crime scene into saying that he had wiped blood off an alleged murder weapon, according to Aung Myo Thant, a lawyer for the defence team.

Speaking to DVB on Thursday evening, the lawyer said the court heard testimony from a Burmese migrant named U Oh, who was a garbage collector on Sairee Beach during the period in September 2014 when British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were murdered.

“U Oh confirmed he was the owner of the garden hoe, which is alleged to have been used as the murder weapon in the case,” Aung Myo Thant said. “A police officer had earlier testified that the hoe was used to murder the victims, then the blood-stained tool was placed under a bag and discarded on the beach.”

But U Oh testified that the hoe was in the same place he left it the night before, the lawyer said.

“Also, police cajoled him to say he washed off the blood from the hoe. However, that is not what he told the judge. He said that he had not paid any attention to the hoe and was not aware of whether there was any blood on it or not.”

The defence team previously requested the DNA sample to be re-examined by Thailand’s top forensic expert, Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand.

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“For the moment, we have no information on whether our request to re-examine the DNA sample is to be upheld,” said the Burmese lawyer.

“We learnt that the police also listed Dr Pornthip as a prosecution witness … but at the moment, she is travelling abroad.”

He said several positive signs emerged on Thursday from the point of view of the defence team.

The court also heard testimony from a masseuse who was a prosecution witness.

Aung Myo Thant said she testified that she saw the silhouettes of three individuals playing guitar and singing on the beach on the night the murders took place.

“There was nothing very substantial in her testimony,” he told DVB. “She said that she went out at around 9pm on 14 September and drank about four or five bottles of beer. When she went to urinate by the beach, she saw three silhouettes sitting on a tree log, playing guitar and singing.

“The witness said she could not tell the identities of the persons on the log, only that they were singing a song in English.”

The court is set to hear accounts from six more prosecution witnesses on Friday.

Sixty-five prosecution witnesses have been summoned in total for the trial of Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, who stand accused of murdering Witheridge and Miller, and raping Witheridge.

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