Judge Gives Defense Team Access to DNA Evidence in British Backpacker Murder Trial
KOH SAMUI – The provincial court in Koh Samui has given defense lawyers for two Myanmar workers accused of murdering two British tourists on Koh Tao access to evidence for DNA testing, a defence attorney said Friday.
The defense team Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, both aged 22, says police analyses of DNA samples found at the scene are the only evidence tying them to the murders of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, Sept 15, making retesting of the material crucial.
Postmortem examinations showed both victims suffered severe head wounds and Witheridge was raped.
Among the evidence available for retesting were a garden hoe allegedly used as the murder weapon, blood found in the sand at the murder scene, shoes and hair samples, lead defense lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat said.
“The court said that lawyers are free to request all the DNA samples for independent DNA testing at anytime,” Mr Nakhon told Reuters, adding that a forensic expert testified that DNA swabs from the crime scene had been duplicated in a laboratory, so samples were still available. “Now we must decide what to re-test.”
On Thursday, police forensic expert Kewalee Chanpan told the court that all genetic material tested in a lab was replicated and saved, but that it deteriorated over time.
Police had issued conflicting statements about the DNA, including that some was lost or “used up”. They later took back that statement, saying DNA samples had not been lost.
The entire investigation has been dogged by allegations of police incompetence and mishandling of evidence, with rights groups saying the accused men are being used as scapegoats since they are foreign migrant workers in Thailand.
The murder trial resumed on Wednesday, when the court heard how the British pair were tracked by more than a dozen security cameras during their final hours.
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