Two Burmese suspects in murder of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller say they were tortured into confessing
The Guardian, Wednesday 5 November 2014 10.13 GMT
Burma has formally asked Thailand to reopen the investigation into the murder of two British tourists over claims that the Burmese suspects confessed to the crime under torture.
Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found bludgeoned to death on a beach on the popular holiday island of Koh Tao in September.
The Thai authorities have charged Burmese migrants Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, both 21, with the murders. They say both confessed after they were forced to re-enact the Thai’s police version of the incident on the beach.
But the men say they were beaten by officers and have since retracted their confessions. The father of Win Zaw said the police doused the pair in petrol and threatened to set them alight.
A lawyer for the Burmese embassy’s legal team said the request to reopen the investigation had been made to Thailand’s ministry for legal affairs.
Speaking to the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Thai-based news service run by Burmese exiles, a lawyer, Aung Myo Thant, said: “The kids [Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun] have told the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC], the lawyers, our embassy team and their parents on each occasion that they were beaten by police. Therefore, we have requested that a special team be formed to re-investigate the case. We presented a formal letter of request to a ministry official.”
Aung Myo Thant said he and the embassy team met members of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, the NHRC and the suspects’ parents on Monday.
The NHRC has asked the Thai police to answer the allegations of torture. The Thai police, who deny the allegations, have twice failed to show up for meetings with the commission.
The Foreign Office in London has called in a Thai diplomat to discuss concerns that police might have sought an easy solution to the crime to avoid harming the country’s tourism industry.