By THE NATION,
Koh Tao suspects sent to hospital for examination to see if they were indeed tortured into confessing
IN RESPONSE to reports that the two Myanmar suspects detained over the Koh Tao murders had been tortured into confessing, police yesterday sent them to Koh Samui hospital for detailed physical examinations.
Sources said medical examination should show whether the suspects’ claims are true.
Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin Oo, both 21, told a team from the Lawyers’ Council of Thailand on Tuesday that they had been tortured into confessing to crimes they did not commit. After spending six hours talking to the suspects via an interpreter, Thanu Akekachote, a lawyer from the team, revealed that the suspects had now decided to retract their confession and prove their innocence.
The two men are accused of murdering Britons David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on Koh Tao off Surat Thani last month and also sexually violating Witheridge.
The hideous crime made both local and foreign headlines, and after several weeks of investigation, police arrested the two migrant workers. However, many people are concerned that they are being made scapegoats.
“The suspects were initially confused by the many different groups of people contacting them. They did not know whom they should speak to,” Thanu said, adding: “Now they trust us and have asked for our help.”
Thai police, meanwhile, have been citing DNA results and saying they have strong evidence against the suspects.
Thanu said he did not feel any pressure in handling this case.
“This is the sort of work lawyers have to deal with anyway. I must say we feel relieved after talking to the suspects and we all trust each other,” he said.
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission chairman Win Mra yesterday filed a formal request with the chief of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand saying the workers should not be subjected to torture or ill treatment.
Separately, relatives of the suspects arrived yesterday to “ask for justice”, and told reporters that they believed the men were innocent.
“I’ve come here to ask for justice. I don’t believe my son committed these crimes,” Win Zaw’s father Tun Tun Htike said. He was seen carrying His Majesty’s photograph as he disembarked from the flight.
Representatives from the Myanmar Embassy as well as members of a labour protection committee met the relatives at the airport. They will head to Surat Thani province to meet with the two suspects soon.
Meanwhile, British Ambassador Mark Kent spoke to Thai Foreign Ministry officials yesterday about his country’s plans to dispatch investigators to monitor the work on this case.
Deputy Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Thailand’s judicial process was in line with international standards and no other country could intervene in it.
“But if anyone has concerns or doubts, they can ask questions or step in to observe,” he said, adding that all suspects had the right to recant their confessions.
Paiboon Achavanuntakun, acting chief of Public Prosecutor Regional Office 8, said public prosecutors would look into the evidence available before deciding whether to arraign the two suspects.
“The bottom line is not what suspects say, it’s the forensic evidence such as DNA results,” he said.
He added that prosecutors would look into the petition filed by the suspects’ lawyers, which mentions the alleged torture and forced confession.
“We will ensure justice to all sides,” Paiboon said, adding that prosecutors had instructed investigators to gather more information on the case.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said both the Myanmar and British embassies had offered to help with the case.