Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Parents of Koh Tao murder suspects arrive in Bangkok

22 Oct 2014
The parents of two Myanmar men suspected of killing two British tourists on Koh Tao arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday to visit their sons. 
Tun Tun Htike (left) and May Thein, parents of Win Zaw Htun, one of two Myanmar workers accused of killing the British tourists, cry as they speak to reporters after arriving at Don Mueang airport. (Reuters photo)
The controversial case took and extra twist when Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htu recanted their confessions to police and lodged their retractions with public prosecutors through the Lawyers Council of Thailand.
Their parents arrived at Don Mueang airport on Nok Air flight DD4231 from Yangon  about 10am Wednesday. A Myanmar embassy representative and a lawyer for the two men met them at the airport and took them to the embassy.
They planned to travel to Koh Samui in Surat Thani province to visit their sons, who are being held at the Koh Samui prison, but the timing has not been revealed.
On seeing reporters at the airport, the parents burst into tears and said they wanted to see their sons and their living conditions and ''seek justice'' from the Thai courts.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, were arrested early this month and accused of the murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24 on the southern tourist island on Sept 15. The suspects are migrant workers on the island.
They confessed during police interrogation, but later retracted their confessions in the presence of two council lawyers at Koh Samui prison on Tuesday.
Surapong Kongchantuk, chairman of the lawyers' human rights subcommittee on ethnic minorities, said on Tuesday that the pair claimed they were physically abused and threatened by police until they confessed.
  Mr Surapong said on Wednesday the council hoped that prosecutors would delay the indictment decision to allow investigators and defence counsel more time to seek evidence in the case, to ensure fairness in the process.
''The lawyers council will not intervene in the decision of state prosecutors,'' he told FM106 news programme.
He told Thai Rath TV on Wednesday that the council plans to take the matter to the Office of the Attorney-General if the Public Prosecution Office Region 8 turns down the request for a delay in proceedings.
Mr Surapong leads the team of the lawyers on the case, but he was not on Koh Samui to interview the pair on Tuesday.
Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thawornsiri, spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, said on Wednesday that the police interrogation of the two suspects met international standards and they had not been assaulted to force their confession.
The spokesman said that three doctors - at Koh Tao hospital, at the Koh Samui prison and another from the Rights and Liberties Protection Department - examined the suspects three times and confirmed that they had not been tortured.
Pol Lt Gen Prawut also said that the suspects had their right to recant their confession.
Police have been criticised for their handling of the case and accused of  arresting the wrong people and of forcing them to confess.
The two suspects also told National Human Rights Commission representatives on Oct 13 that their confessions were made under torture.
Human rights commissioner Nirun Pitakwatchara said on Wednesday that the commissioners will not make a conclusion on the issue until they have information from all sides.
Police will be summoned to testify before the commissionon on Monday, he said.
The NHRC has called for the prison to arrange for an X-ray for Zaw Lin after he told the panel he had pains in his chest.
The commission found no evidence of torture on the two suspects. Mr Nirun told FM101.5 radio programme on Wednesday that  an X-ray should clarify the matter.
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