Thai police deny suspects confessed to beach murders under torture

Critics of Thai police say the investigation into the deaths of two British backpackers on Koh Tao last month has been unprofessional and that the Burmese men accused of murder gave forced confessions. Thai authorities rejected these allegations.

Published: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 2:11 PM
Updated: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 3:01 PM

Thai police dismiss the claim that two Burmese men were tortured into admitting that they killed two British tourists last month.

The official investigation into the Sept. 15 double-murder of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, has come under fire since the suspects, identified as Saw and Win, were formally arrested on Friday.

Thailand’s Khao Sod newspaper ran an editorial Monday saying the investigation has been “disturbingly unprofessional” and that the confessions may have been obtained “under duress.”

“Thai police have a history of using physical abuse to extract false confessions that are later retracted,” it reads, “and there was no lawyer present during Saw and Win’s interrogation.”

Just last week, two other Burmese migrant workers claimed to have been beaten by police when they refused to confess to the murder, according to the editorial.

Authorities outright reject these allegations.

Prachum Ruangthong, head of police for the island of Koh Tao, said he met with Myanmar diplomats and human rights advocates to address the issue.

“We answered every question and clarified all points raised in social media. They were satisfied with our explanations,” he said, according to the Bangkok Post. “It is impossible to create scapegoats in 2014, since it is easier for police to be grilled by the public.”

Authorities also say the suspects are connected to the murders by DNA evidence.

Thai police have been under great pressure to make an arrest ever since Miller and Witheridge were found beaten to death on a Koh Tao beach near a bloodied garden hoe.

According to Khao Sod, local authorities and residents are concerned with how the unsolved murders could damage their already struggling tourism industry.

A petition on to have the United Kingdom investigate the murders independently has already garnered more than 43,000 signatures.

The British ambassador in Bangkok, Mark Kent, said the UK has a good relationship with Thai police though he did not comment on the investigation, according to The Telegraph.

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