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Thailand police parade 'Burmese killers' of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in front of cameras on Koh Tao

Published 03/10/2014

Workers from Myanmar, Saw, left, and Win, sit together, escorted by a Thai police officer, during a press conference in Koh Tao island, Surat Thani province. Thailand, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Thai police have arrested the two Myanmar workers they say confessed to killing a pair of British tourists on a beach in the southern Thailand last month. (AP Photo) THAILAND OUT
Workers from Myanmar, Saw, left, and Win, sit together, escorted by a Thai police officer, during a press conference in Koh Tao island, Surat Thani province. Thailand, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Thai police have arrested the two Myanmar workers they say confessed to killing a pair of British tourists on a beach in the southern Thailand last month. (AP Photo) THAILAND OUT
Undated handout photos issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, as two Burmese workers are said by police to have confessed to killing the two British tourists on a Thai holiday island last month.
Myanmar workers Saw, center left, and Win, center right, are escorted by a Thai police officers for a press conference in Koh Tao island, Surat Thani province, Thailand, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Two workers from Myanmar have confessed to killing a pair of British tourists whose battered bodies were found on a beach in southern Thailand last month, and police said Friday that the suspects' DNA matched that collected from one of the victims. (AP Photo)

Police in Thailand have paraded the two Burmese workers who confessed to killing two British tourists in front of cameras to reconstruct the murders.

The two men, whose names have only been given as Saw and Win, wore hard hats against possible missiles from the crowd at a briefing on Friday.

The two suspects (wearing hard hats) during a re-enactment of the alleged crime
The two suspects (wearing hard hats) during a re-enactment of the alleged crime

General Somyot Poompanmoung, chief of the Royal Thai Police, said they face charges of murder, rape and theft.

As well as the reported confession, he said a DNA match had been made between the suspects and samples taken from the victims' bodies.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found dead on a beach on the island of Koh Tao on 15 September.

Police said Ms Witheridge had been raped by two men as a third watched before being murdered.

Both victims were found badly beaten with head wounds believed to be from a bloodstained hoe found nearby.

In a reconstruction of the killings, the handcuffed suspects were taken to the island's Sairee beach, where they were watched by hundreds of locals and tourists.

One suspect was seen walking from the sea to the sandy beach, holding a tool to apparently replicate the murder weapon while talking to officers.

General Somyot claimed the crime was motivated by sexual jealousy.

“The suspects saw them kissing and were aroused, so they attacked and got rid of the man and proceeded to rape the female victim,” he said.

Human rights groups have voiced concern over the lack of legal representation for the men, who have not had legal representation.

But General Somyot claimed they had not asked for lawyers.

Two Myanmar migrant workers suspected of killing two British tourists participate in a crime re-enactment
Two Myanmar migrant workers suspected of killing two British tourists participate in a crime re-enactment

“If they had asked for lawyers we would have provided lawyers for them as this is their basic right,” he added.

Migrant workers, particularly from neighbouring Burma, face prejudice in Thailand and have been used as scapegoats for previous crimes.

The rape and murder of 23-year-old Welsh backpacker Kirsty Jones in 2000 was blamed on a guide from Burma who was beaten by police in an attempt to coerce a confession.

Despite a number of arrests, no charges have ever been brought over her death.

General Somyot said DNA results, CCTV footage and other evidence had supported the men's confessions that they raped and killed Ms Witheridge and murdered Mr Miller.

A third Burmese worker arrested in connection with the murders denies involvement.

Undated handout photos issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, as two Burmese workers are said by police to have confessed to killing the two British tourists on a Thai holiday island last month.
Undated handout photos issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, as two Burmese workers are said by police to have confessed to killing the two British tourists on a Thai holiday island last month.

Officers had collected 200 DNA samples from men on the island to test against two different semen samples found on her body.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Lieutenant General Panya Mamen, commissioner of the region’s police, defended the investigation, which has come under close scrutiny after changing direction on a number of occasions as police appeared to be struggling to identify those responsible.

Last week a reward of 700,000 baht - roughly £13,300 - was offered for information leading to the arrests of the killers, while around 150 officers were posted to the island.

Post-mortem examinations revealed that Ms Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, died from head wounds, while Mr Miller, from Jersey, was killed by severe blows to the head and drowning.

Source: Independent and agencies

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