KOH SAMUI – The Two Myanmar migrant workers, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, accused of murdering David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on southern Koh Tao island in September 2014, should be acquitted because of “unreliable” forensic evidence and a flawed police probe, a court heard Monday.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun have pleaded not guilty and face the death penalty if convicted over a case which tarnished Thailand’s reputation as a tourist paradise and has seen the police accused of bungling the investigation.
A verdict is expected on Christmas Eve.
Prosecutors insist their case against the men is watertight and includes DNA found on Witheridge’s body and around the crime scene.
But the defense has raised doubts over the forensic evidence, bringing in an expert witness who said the murder weapon — a garden hoe — did not carry the DNA of the accused.
The defense delivered their closing statement on Monday, the culmination of a 21-day trial stretched out over more than three months that has heard harrowing details of the gruesome murders.
The forensic testimony against the accused is “unreliable and… inadmissible,” the statement released to the media said, adding “the prosecution’s case is marked by an absence of significant evidence” to prove guilt.
Questioning the integrity of the murder probe, the defence said the two migrant workers were “questioned without lawyers” and made to sign documents that they did not understand.
Confessions made soon after their arrest were later retracted as they were given under duress, it added.
Lead defense lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat said his clients hoped “common sense” would prevail and see them acquitted.
The battered bodies of the British holidaymakers were found on the sleepy diving island of Koh Tao on Sept 15, 2014.
Police say Miller was struck by a single blow and left to drown in shallow surf while Witheridge had been raped and then beaten to death with a garden hoe.
Family members of both victims have attended parts of the trial, often breaking down during the more harrowing moments.
It is not clear whether they will be present for the verdict on Dec 24. Christmas is not a public holiday in Thailand.