Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Koh Tao suspects offered new DNA tests

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Wednesday that police will allow two Myanmar men accused of killing a pair of British tourists on Koh Tao to have another DNA test, as questions mount over the murder probe. 
"We will allow the suspects to fight the case, however they want," Gen Prayut told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting. "We have no problem conducting another DNA tests if (sceptics) think the released (DNA) results were not correct or not fair."
Parents of two Myanmar men jailed for the Koh Tao double murders appeal to the media last week, seeking justice in an investigation they claim had been bungled. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha responded to criticism of the probe Wednesday by saying the pair will be allowed new DNA tests if they want them. (Bangkok Post photo)
It was not immediately clear if the accused had requested a second DNA test.
Thai police hailed a breakthrough in their investigation of the double murders after claiming DNA from the accused migrant workers matched samples taken from the body of one of the victims and that the men had confessed.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were charged with the murder ofDavid Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, after the tourists' battered bodies were found on the Surat Thani province island 15. But last week the men, both in their 20s, retracted their confessions, alleging they were obtained under duress.
Criticism of the police handling of the case has swirled both in Thailand and overseas.
Thai authorities have strongly denied using the pair as scapegoats, insisting the case is built on solid evidence showing the DNA of the accused from initial tests matches samples taken from Witheridge's body.
Another man assumed to be a suspect early in the investigation was to appear in Bangkok Thursday for his own DNA test.
Warot Tuwichian, 22, and his father, Woraphan will meet Pol Gen Somyot Pumpanmuang at the Royal Thai Police Office to "prove their innocence" before the media. Police have invited staff from the institute of forensic science at Ramathibodi Hospital, Siriraj Hospital and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital to jointly carry out the test, Pol Gen Somyot said.
"If the DNA results turn out to match with the samples taken from the crime scene, Mr Warot will become an accomplice. If the DNA doesn't match, then society must give justice to Mr Warot's family too," the national police chief said.
British police were allowed to observe the investigation after the UK expressed concerns and offered to help with the probe.
On Wednesday, Gen Prayut said the British investigators were satisfied and had expressed those sentiments to their Thai counterparts.
The general claimed British officers had said Thai authorities had done better than they expected and that the investigation had been carried out the same way they would have done it, because both British and Thai police studied from the "same textbooks."
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