Thai Court Rejects Bail of Suspects in Koh Tao Murder Case

By Nyein Nyein 26 November 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A court on the Thai island of Koh Samui on Wednesday rejected a bail request by two Burmese migrant workers who are accused murdering a pair of British tourists, a NGO member working on the case said.

“The court denied bail because they are accused in a serious crime case and because they are not Thai nationals,” said Htoo Chit, the director of Thailand-based NGO Foundation for Education Development, who is part of a Burma Embassy team dealing with the high-profile murder case.

It was the first time that the accused, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21-year-old Burmese migrant workers, have requested bail since their arrest on Oct. 2. The court had set bail for each of the accused at 500,000 baht (about US$15,500).

Htoo Chit said the embassy team would now help the men to request bail with Surat Thani Provincial Court, adding, “We will try to get the bail, and we have full support from the embassy and Myanmar’s Upper House Speaker.”

Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint visited Thailand from Sunday to Tuesday and met with Thailand’s military regime leader, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The speaker shared his concerns about the detention of the two Burmese held in the murder case with Prayuth, who reportedly said the pair would receive a fair trial, according Htoo Chit.

Last week, the Thai police asked the court to extend the remand for the two for a fifth time, as police try to collect enough evidence to start a trial on charges of murder, rape, aiding a criminal act and illegal entry.

The pair were arrested by Thai police two weeks after the badly beaten bodies of British tourists Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on the beach in Koh Tao in the early hours of Sept. 15.

The Thai police’s handling of the case and allegations of forced confessions and torture have sparked criticism worldwide, raising suspicions that the Burmese migrants were being used as scapegoats. Thai police have denied the torture claims.

The families of the accused and rights activists have called on Thai authorities to ensure a fair trial.