Father of Koh Tao Accused Describes Threats Against His Son

By Migrant Workers, Saw Yan Naing 24 October 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Tun Tun Hteik, the father of Win Zaw Htun, one of two Burmese suspects in the Koh Tao murder case, told The Irrawaddy on Friday of threats made against his son by Thai police that led to his confession.

The parents of the two Burmese migrants accused of killing two British tourists arrived at Koh Samui in southern Thailand on Friday morning and were able to meet their sons for the first time since their arrest.

“When I asked him why he confessed [to killing the British tourists], he said that the police and interpreter threatened to kill them—to cut off their hands and legs and throw them into the sea and to pour fuel on them and set them on fire. They then confessed as they were afraid,” Tun Tun Hteik said. “So, they have now openly admitted that they didn’t kill them.”

Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, both 21 years old, were detained by police on Oct. 2 for the alleged murder of British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge, whose bodies were found on the morning of Sept. 15 on Koh Tao in Thailand’s Surat Thani province.

Aung Myo Thant, a Burmese lawyer assigned by the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok to assist the accused during the legal process, told The Irrawaddy that his group, along with the suspects’ parents, met the two migrants from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

“Basically, they [the accused] admitted that they weren’t involved in this crime. We submitted documents signed by their parents to the legal provincial office [the prosecutor’s office] on Koh Samui to review the case,” Aung Myo Thant said.

The Koh Tao murders have made international headlines, with rights groups and other observers, including from within Thailand, openly critical of the Thai police’s handling of the investigation.

In early October, Thailand’s national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung told reporters on Koh Tao that the two Burmese migrants had confessed to the killings. He also said that DNA samples taken from the two men matched DNA found on the female victim.

Htoo Chit, executive director of the Foundation for Education and Development migrant rights group, also traveled with the suspects’ parents to Koh Samui.

“Their parents are happy as their sons officially reported that they didn’t commit the crime,” Htoo Chit told The Irrawaddy.

Surapong Kongchantuk of the Lawyer’s Council of Thailand said on Friday that his legal team would help the suspects to ensure they receive justice in accordance with Thai law.

“We want and hope to see the truth come out in this case in order to arrest those who really committed the crime,” Surapong said. The two accused men also told the Thai fact-finding team, who met with the two suspects on Koh Samui, that they weren’t responsible for the murders.

“They said they didn’t kill [the two British tourists] or rape the female tourist. They said they didn’t even know about the incident,” added Surapong.

The parents of the two migrants arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday and met with members of the Lawyers Council of Thailand and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand at the Burmese Embassy.