Burmese Migrants Charged for Koh Tao Murders

By Nyein Nyein 4 December 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The trial of two Burmese migrants accused of murdering two British tourists in southern Thailand in September will begin on Monday, the pair’s lawyer said.

Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, sometimes referred to as Win Zaw Htun, were arrested on Oct. 2 as the primary suspects in a double-murder on the holiday island of Koh Tao.

They were indicted on Thursday following a controversial two-month investigation that critics claim lacked both transparency and evidence.

Defense attorney Amporn Sungthong told The Irrawaddy on Thursday afternoon that “the court hearing will begin on Monday, Dec. 8.”

The two suspects, both 21-year-old migrant workers from Arakan State in western Burma, have been in custody since their arrest in early October. They were apprehended about two weeks after the severely battered corpses of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on a Koh Tao beach.

Thai police said the suspects had made a confession, but they later renounced it claiming they had been tortured by authorities. Thai police denied the allegations.

The defendants will face up to seven charges each, their defense lawyer said, including murder, rape, theft and illegal stay in Thailand.

Min Oo, a social worker assisting the Burmese Embassy in Thailand to support the accused, said it is still unclear whether bail will granted for the proceedings or if the pair will remain in custody.

Bail was initially set at 500,000 baht (US$15,000), but was denied on the grounds that the men were accused of a serious crime and are not Thai nationals, according to an NGO-worker assisting the duo.