Embassy official at Thai court claims ‘culture’ of police brutality

An employee of the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok has told a Thai court of a culture of police brutality on an island where two migrant workers were alleged to have murdered two British tourists, the Guardian reported on September 26.

Embassy attaché U Aung Soe said nearly all members of the migrant community on Koh Tao had been questioned in the weeks between the murders and the arrests of the two suspects last year, the newspaper said.

“Many of them said police scalded them with hot water if they were caught talking about the case to anyone,” he told the court on Samui island on September 25.

Ko Zaw Lin and Ko Win Phyo, also known as Ko Win Zaw Tun, both 22, are on trial for the murder of David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, on Koh Tao in September 2014.

Police have denied accusations from defence lawyers that they used abuse and intimidation to extract confessions from the two suspects.

The two restaurant and bar workers initially confessed to the murders but later retracted the admissions.

Since the trial began three months ago, the defence has exposed inconsistencies in the police investigations, arguing that chains of custody over evidence were broken and the crime scene was not properly cordoned off, the Guardian reported.

Thai forensic scientist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan told the court on September 11 that DNA on the garden hoe suspected of being used to kill the two Britons did not match that of the two suspects.

The trial was due to end on September 25 but the judge granted a request from the defence team for extra hearings on October 10 and 11 to give the defendants more time to testify, the Guardian said.

The verdict is now likely to be handed down in November, it said.

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