Following claims in Thai media that both suspects in the Koh Tao murder case were suffering from chest pains as a result of beatings during interrogation, lawyer Aung Myo Thant, one of a Burmese embassy team that interviewed the two Burmese suspects, confirmed that both Burmese made similar claims to him during a recent interview.
Speaking to DVB on Sunday, the Burmese lawyer said, “Zaw Lin, the larger of the two youngsters, claimed he was kicked in the chest and punched. [The other suspect] Win Zaw Htun implied that he was struck around the head.”
When asked who is alleged to have inflicted the beatings, Aung Myo Thant said, “The policeman who first interrogated them kicked Zaw Lin in the chest, but he says he was punched by the translator.”
The lawyer said he could not determine exactly where and when the alleged incidents took place, but supposed it was on Koh Tao around 29 September.
Other media reports have suggested that the two suspects showed bruises on their bodies to the embassy team that they claim were inflicted during interrogation.
Speaking to Burma’s President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw on Friday, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha promised to ensure truth, justice and objectivity in the investigation of Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun.
Zaw Htay, director of the Burmese President’s Office, said, “The President told Prime Minister Prayuth that the Burmese government accepts that one has to respect Thai law when in Thailand, but he stressed that the Thai government must ensure truth, justice and objectivity in the investigation, to which the Thai premier agreed.
“The President said the case is drawing a lot of attention from the whole country: media, civil society organisations and within the government. He urged the Thai premier to ensure the rights of Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, and noted the case could affect Thai-Burmese relations.
“The Thai Prime Minister responded that he understood the importance of the matter with regard to bilateral relations, and said his government seeks to gain the confidence of the people of Myanmar [Burma] and the international community by concluding the case in a correct manner.”
According to Zaw Htay, Prayuth explained that the Thai government has been prioritising the issue of labour cards as IDs for Burmese migrants and vowed to ensure they enjoy the same level of protection as Thai nationals.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21 years of age from Kyaukphyu in Arakan State, are being detained pending charges relating to the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and the murder of David Miller, 24, both from England. The British couple were bludgeoned to death on 15 September on the Thai island resort of Koh Tao.