By The Nation,
Court sets hearing dates from July; Myanmar embassy arranges bail guarantee money for the two suspects
The trial of two Myanmar men accused of murdering a pair of British tourists on Koh Tao will be heard in the second half of next year, after the Koh Samui Court agreed yesterday to postpone the case.
The first hearing has been scheduled on July 8 and will be followed by 11 hearings, one each for five witnesses from both the prosecution and defence, the Koh Samui Court said.
The hearings are scheduled on July 8, 9, 10, 22, 28, then on August 18, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28 and on September 1, 2, 22, 24, 25, 26, judges said.
A senior Myanmar embassy official said more than Bt2 million had been prepared for bail of the two suspects – Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo.
A defence lawyer had earlier made a request to the court, asking for extra statements from more than 15 Myanmar workers on the tourist island included as defence witnesses. It said they earlier had fears for their lives if they gave statements to the Thai police while in Thailand.
But this request was turned down by the court, on grounds that all existing witnesses were already on the lists, including 60 people on the public prosecutors’ list who are local police, forensic police personnel and footage from surveillance cameras, a court source said.
The defendants’ parents and some relatives were present at yesterday’s hearing. One of them said the defence had crucial evidence and confidence that they would defend the suspects.
Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, both 21, were arrested in October and “confessed” to the crimes, but later withdrew their statements saying they were tortured.
They were in Koh Samui provincial court to hear opening statements from the prosecution, a court official told DPA.
The defence requested that the case be postponed because they had had inadequate time to prepare. The badly beaten bodies of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were found on a beach on Koh Tao on September 15.
British and Myanmar envoys have raised concerns about the investigation, with London sending a police team as observers. The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand also expressed concern about the alleged forced confessions. Thai police denied the accusations of torture or misconduct.