Questions over UK police conduct in Koh Tao murders case


A British police officer (C) is accompanied by his Thai counterparts as they inspect the murder scene where two British tourists were murdered at Sairee beach, Koh Tao island, Thailand, October 25, 2014. The British police team including Scotland Yard officers visited Koh Tao island resort to observe an investigation by the Thai police. Photo: EPA 

UK-based rights group Reprieve has expressed alarm after it emerged that British police might have breached legal guidelines by providing evidence to Thai authorities which could potentially help them execute Myanmar suspects accused of murdering two British backpackers, reports the Guardian on March 1.

Under a British government protocol, British police and officials should not normally provide evidence when defendants face capital punishment in a foreign jurisdiction without getting assurances a death sentence will not be carried out, according to the newspaper.

However, in an email to Reprieve, the UK Foreign Office said it had learned that four English police forces conducted interviews about the case at the request of their Thai counterparts and passed on the information. Reprieve says it does not believe assurances over execution were sought. The FCO declined to comment on this point.

More widely, Reprieve claims British police and officials have been giving “one-sided assistance” by handing information to Thai authorities but refusing to share any of it with the defence team.

Myanmar migrant workers Ko Zaw Lin Oo and Ko Wai Phyo are charged with the September 2014 murders of Ms Hannah Witheridge and Mr David Miller on the Thai resort island of Koh Tao. Both suspects have pleaded their innocence.

The conduct of the Thai and British police forces over the case has been called into question.

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