Date set for judgement on Koh Tao murder suspect case

12 October 2015
Date set for judgement on Koh Tao murder suspect case
Myanmar migrant workers who are accused of killing two British tourists, Zaw Lin (F) and Wai Phyo (B) arrive for their trial at the Samui Provincial Court in Samui Island, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand, 02 September 2015. Photo: Sitthipong Chareonjai/EPA

The Koh Samui Provincial Court has set 24 December as the date to deliver its judgement on two Myanmar men, Zaw Lin and Zaw Ein Htun (aka Wai Phyo), who are accused of murdering two British tourists on Thailand’s Koh Tao Island on September 15 last year.
The two are charged with the murder of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, on September 15, 2014, at Sairee beach on the resort island in Koh Phangan district.
Migrant rights activist, Andy Hall, who has been closely involved in the case has recently summarised his views:
“After sitting in 21 days of witness testimony, reading 1,000s of pages of evidence/documents, there are lots of inconsistencies/suspicions to highlight in the defence’s closing statement.
Seems to me personally, to reiterate again, that the only significant evidence directly linking the two accused Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo to the murders is the police DNA results (incomplete tables and graphs produced to court only, no chain of custody or case notes ever supplied to defence, despite defence requests and fact that these latter two sets of documents are essential to ensure analysis of validity of results).
So Koh Tao trial result/verdict seems to me personally (personal opinion based on what I have seen) to come down to court's position on the reliability of the police DNA evidence/results based on the evidence presented to court (charts/graphs) and the reliability of the torture allegations in explaining the accused’s original concessions.
All issues regarding the accused's presence on Sairee beach on the night of the murders (like many other people), a mobile phone, CCTV footage and cigarette butts (for which DNA tests apparently conducted have never been brought to court) are tangential circumstantial evidence only.
The main alleged murder weapon (a hoe) has not in any way been linked to the accused, beyond what they said in confessions they were allegedly forced to sign. There were no witnesses who claimed to see the accused involved in the crimes they were charged with.
There were also many significant pieces of case evidence not brought before Samui court by the police for judges consideration despite defence team requests for this information to be shared and considered.
Evidence not presented in court by police included: crime scene/postmortem/DNA analysis photos, chain of custody documents and detailed DNA analysis case notes needed to assess the validity and reliability of DNA testing results and procedures.
Importantly, key tests were notably as part of the investigation not conducted or came back with inconclusive results including tests on the  deceased female’s clothes that must be considered primary evidence in such a case as this, finger/footprint evidence has never been presented, the hoe results inconclusive too.
That's just some key personal observations from the witness testimony in court. Obviously there are many more issues (translation issues, whether the legal procedure for investigation and charging followed, ethnic conflict between the translator and accused etc.) and the above shouldn't be considered exhaustive!”