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Trail of Murdered British Tourists Resumes in Koh Samui

Win Zaw Htun (left) and Zaw Lin, workers from Myanmar accused of killing two British tourists, are brought to a court in Koh Samui

Win Zaw Htun (left) and Zaw Lin, workers from Myanmar accused of killing two British tourists, are brought to a court in Koh Samui

 

KOH SAUMI – Defense lawyers in the trial of two Myanmar men, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, accused of killing two British tourists on Koh Tao a Thai resort island last year said on Wednesday they would focus on the reliability of crucial DNA evidence.

The murder trial, which began earlier this month, has been consumed by allegations of police incompetence and evidence mishandling by defense lawyers. Rights groups have also claimed the men are being used as scapegoats because of their status as foreign migrant workers in Thailand.

At the heart of the trial is a debate over DNA samples that police say link the two suspects to Witheridge’s body.

Police have 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.

Defense lawyers said that evidence would remain the focus when the trial resumed on Wednesday.

“Questioning today will focus on the DNA of the accused and the collection of the DNA,” lead defense lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat told Reuters.

A court on the island of Samui, where the trial is taking place, ordered this month that remaining forensic evidence in the case be sent for reexamination at the Thai justice ministry’s central forensic institute.

“We still have not seen any progress on the request to see the DNA gathered by police,” Nakhon said.

Andy Hall a Human rights activist who is presently facing trumped up charges of criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crime Act brought by the Natural Fruit Company and government prosecutors said the defense team would present evidence from British authorities at odds with the findings presented by Thai investigators.

He did not characterize the nature of the evidence and said they were under a strict confidentiality agreement not to disclose who provided it. British investigators visited Thailand in October to review the case, but no information from that was made public.

The Koh Samui court, ordered this month that remaining forensic evidence in the case be sent for re-examination at the Thai justice ministry’s central forensic institute.

“We still have not seen any progress on the request to see the DNA gathered by police,” Nakhon said.

While the Thai justice system is under international scrutiny in the case, there seems very little interest in the case from domestic media.

A reporter covering the first phase of the trial earlier this month, who asked not to be identified as he is covering the trial, said he saw no Thai press beyond a television crew from Channel 3.

“I think the Thais are very keen for this to be done and dusted as soon as possible,” he said.

However, the desire for a fair trial may be elusive.

“I would say that the Thais are keen to see that justice is being done, for the families and their image abroad,” he added. “The questions are whether the right people are on trial and whether they will get a fair trial, in the Western sense.”

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Posted by on Jul 22 2015. Filed under Regional News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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