KOH SAMUI – The two Burmese migrant workers accused of brutally murdering David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on the island of Koh Tao in September, had their detention extended for a sixth time at Ko Samui Court today.
In accordance with Thai law, suspects are detained for periods of 12 days. These 12-day periods can be extended up to a maximum of seven times (a total of 84 days). Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, in the Koh Tao murder case were arrested on October 3 and have now had their detention extended six times. This will bring their detention up to December 14, according to Journalist Daniel Maxwell
On Friday, November 28 the Samui prosecutor publicly announced that the trial would begin during the first week of December. However, the case has been repeatedly delayed and postponed. The problem for the authorities is that time is running out and after this they have just one chance to extend the suspects’ detention. The authorities will need to prosecute the suspects by December 26, or release them.
The delays in this case are in stark contrast to comments made at the time of the suspects’ initial arrest. Police Chief Somyot Pumpunmuang told journalists then that the police had conducted a “perfect investigation” and a speedy prosecution was expected. But it wasn’t long before the ‘perfect’ case against the Burmese suspects was being questioned by a myriad of observers, including the British Government, the Myanmar [Burmese] Government, human rights organizations, Thai officials, and thousands of social media users.
Meanwhile, Ko Zaw Lin Oo and Ko Wai Phyo called for witnesses on December 2, the day the Samui Court extended their detention from December 3 to 14, following the prosecutor’s request
The two accused wrote the following letter appealing for help:
“We both wish to request anyone who perhaps can assist to be a witness in our case or has evidence about the crimes we are suspected of to urgently come forward and introduce yourselves to our lawyers and share your information with our defence team. This will really assist us in our defense and ensure justice is done for us, our family and the family of the victims. Please don’t be scared to assist us at our time of need. May you all be happy. Thank you. Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo.”
The accused men, both 21, are calling for further witnesses to back their claim that they are innocent of the murders of Ms Hannah Witheridge and Mr David Miller on September 15. Both men claim they were forced to make confessions.
The two men accused of the killing are also charged with conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to rape and robbery.
Failure to seal off the crime scene after the killings and early claims by the police that no Thai person could have committed such a crime have attracted criticism.
Mr Zaw’s mother has said her son is being made a “scapegoat” by police and the case has been fixed.