Lawyers call for British experts to examine DNA in Thai backpacker murders after Burmese bar workers retract their confessions

British police have been asked to conduct their own independent DNA tests as the Thai investigations into the murders of two Britons plunged into disarray today.

  •     Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, retracted their earlier confessions
  •     They allege they were beaten into making them by Thai police
  •     Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found dead on September 15

By Richard Shears for MailOnline
Published: 07:37 GMT, 12 October 2014 | Updated: 13:34 GMT, 12 October 2014

British police have been asked to conduct their own independent DNA tests as the Thai investigations into the murders of two Britons plunged into disarray today.

Lawyers for two Burmese men arrested for the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller asked Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission to press British police to help with the case.

The new development came as the Burmese lawyers said the men, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, had retracted their earlier confessions.

Thai prosecutors have also said the 300 page dossier presented to them by police had holes in it and further evidence was required.

The National Human Rights Commission has also decided to send a team to Koh Tao to examine the crime scene, The Nation newspaper reported today.

Thai police have come under intense criticism locally and internationally for the way they have handled the case since the bodies of the two Britons were found on Koh Tao’s Sairee Beach on the morning of September 15.

They failed to seal off the crime scene and issued a number of conflicting statements before announcing that the two Burmese men had been arrested.

But the bar workers claimed later that their ‘confessions’ had been forced from them under duress. They said the bruises on their bodies proved they had been beaten by police.

Detectives denied this and said DNA evidence matching samples from the body of Miss Witheridge and the two men was evidence of their guilt.

Prosecutors, however, said the evidence was still not strong enough to take the men to court and they have asked police to re-submit their file on the case after adding evidence that was required to make it watertight.

The insistence that more evidence was required has now prompted the men’s lawyers to ask for an independent examination of the DNA evidence.

The lawyers have called on both the Human Rights Commission as well as the Myanmar (Burmese) Embassy in Thailand to make approaches to Scotland Yard and ask for a forensic team to look at the DNA evidence.

In a sign of the distress the suspects are suffering, the chief of the prison where the two men are being held says they are being monitored to prevent any possible suicide attempts.

Chanin Liangsuwan, chief of Koh Samui District Prison, said: ‘I have instructed other inmates to monitor the two Burmese men. I am afraid they may commit suicide, because they show signs of stress.

‘They may be feeling guilty for the crime they have done.’ quoted Mr Chanin as saying the pair are being held in a general holding cell with other inmates, but that wardens were still doing their best to keep an eye on them.

Witthaya Suriyawong, director of the Department of Corrections, explaining he had warned prison officials to be wary, added: ‘They are a special case because they are charged with a serious crime, which carries a high penalty.

‘Even the food they eat has to be checked thoroughly to prevent any incident. I also want officials to set up CCTVs and guards to monitor their safety when they sleep.’

Regional Public Prosecutor Thawatchai Siangiaew said today that once the amended police report, with the added requested evidence, had been submitted, a decision would be made within seven days on when the men would be brought before a court.