Victim’s sister slams ‘bungled’ Koh Tao investigation

YANGON — A Facebook post by the sister of Koh Tao rape and murder victim Hannah Witheridge warning people that Thailand was a “dangerous trap” has raised further questions about the investigation and convictions of two Myanmar migrant workers last month.

On Sunday Laura Witheridge, the sister of Hannah Witheridge who died on Koh Tao island in September, 2014, posted a lengthy condemnation of Thai police and their “bungled investigation” of the case that resulted in murder convictions and death sentences for Myanmar nationals Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo on December 24.

“The vast majority of the Thai police are corrupt,” Ms Witheridge said in her lengthy post, since deleted, hinting that she suspected the real culprits in the murders of her sister and David Miller — both British nationals — were Thais.

She also accused Thai officials of telling her parents, “Why are you here? Just go home and make another daughter. She will be back in 30 days as something else. She may have better luck next time.”

Responding to Witheridge’s comments, Courts of Justice spokesman Suebpong Sripongkul said the investigation and trail had been transparent and open to public scrutiny, including by the victims’ family members, the Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday.

He added that if Witheridge had evidence that the judges had acted inappropriately to her parents she could file a petition with the British embassy.
The Witheridge family neither condemned nor condoned the guilty verdicts of the two Myanmar nationals, while the family of David Miller told reporters on December 24 that there was strong evidence against the accused and the police investigation “was not the so-called shambles it was made out to be.”

But Ms Witheridge’s post implied that at least her family held deep reservations about the outcome of the trail and the investigation into the case, which was based mainly on DNA samples.

It is notoriously difficult to gather quality DNA evidence at crime scenes, and at least one international forensics expert, Ms Jane Taupin, has raised serious doubts about the samples gathered by police in the Koh Tao case.

Ms Witheridge claimed she felt compelled to write her post after reading another Facebook post about Thailand being the most beautiful place in the world.

“What if I told you that I have had many death threats from Thai people since they murdered my sister? That they defaced photographs photographs of me saying that the killers had done only ‘half the job’,” she wrote. “Aesthetic beauty can lure you into a very dangerous trap.”

By Peter Janssen

By Peter Janssen

Peter Janssen is a journalist with 35 years experience in the Southeast Asian region. He was Bangkok bureau chief for DPA and worked for numerous publications including Time Magazine, Fortune, Newsweek, the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Banker and FDI magazines.
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