Thai Police Extend Remand of Burmese Koh Tao Murder Suspects

By Nyein Nyein 21 November 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Thai police have requested the court to extend the remand of two Burmese migrant workers accused of murdering a pair of British tourists, as they continue to search for enough evidence to start a trial, an official at the Burma Embassy in Thailand has said.

Aung Myo Thant, a lawyer who is part of an embassy team working on the high-profile case, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday evening that the court on the island of Koh Samui had extended the remand until Dec. 2, 2014.

“The police can still not file a case because they don’t have enough evidence,” he said, adding that it was the fifth time that police have extended the remand.

The accused, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21-year-old Burmese migrant workers, have now been held for 49 days in Koh Samui Prison.

The police can request the court to extend the remand for a maximum of 84 days. The court has set bail for each of the accused at 500,000 baht (about US$15,500).

Aung Myo Thant said the embassy team dealing with the case returned to Bangkok on Thursday night to discuss the possibility of collecting enough money to pay the bail.

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.

British newspaper The Guardian reported on Thursday that the accused had sent a letter to the families of the murder victims in which they expressed their grief at the deaths and insisted they are innocent. They reportedly also asked the families to help them gain access to information that the British government has “in order that the truth can be revealed.”

An investigation team of Britain’s Scotland Yard visited Koh Samui earlier this month to assist Thai police in the investigation, but their involvement has so far not led to new developments in the case.