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Thailand: Two charged with murdering British tourists after 'bizarre and inept' investigation

They were forced to re-enact the murders in front of the media today.

The two suspects, named as Saw (L) and Win (R), are paraded by Thai police.
The two suspects, named as Saw (L) and Win (R), are paraded by Thai police.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

POLICE ON THE Thai island of Koh Tao today paraded two Burmese men they say have confessed to murdering two British tourists three weeks ago.

The migrant workers, who face the death penalty if convicted, have also been charged with raping 23-year-old Hannah Witheridge, before beating her and 24-year-old David Miller to death on 14 September.

Investigators told the BBC that the men, named only as Saw and Win, confessed after being told their DNA matched samples taken from the body of the Norfolk woman.

“The two Myanmar nationals are charged with murder (of both tourists), gang rape (of Witheridge) and stealing,” Prachum Ruangthong, police chief of neighbouring Koh Phangan island, told AFP.

The country’s police chief, Somyot Poompanmoung, said earlier:

Two Myanmar suspects have confessed to killing the pair.
DNA test results confirmed that the same DNA was found in the body of the [female] victim.

The two men were among three nationals from Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – held since Thursday on suspicion of involvement in the crime.

The third suspect is believed to be a witness and is currently under police protection on Koh Tao, provincial police chief Kiattipong Khaosamang told AFP.

Thailand Tourist Deaths Saw, the Burmese worker charged with murdering two British tourists, is paraded at a press conference on the Thai island of Koh Tao. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The breakthrough follows intense scrutiny of Thai authorities, which had been accused of bungling the investigation in the days after the crime.

Earlier today, the men were paraded before the media and hundreds of onlookers, and forced to recreate the crime on the beach where it occurred.

The ritual – which has raised eyebrows around the world for its likelihood of preventing a fair trial – was described by BBC reporter Jonah Fisher as “bizarre.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Fisher said police had even asked him to to “play the part” of murdered Englishman David Miller.

The two men acted out everything, including using garden implements to attack ‘David Miller’ and ‘Hannah Witheridge.’
The whole thing has been bafflingly inept in many ways.

Thai authorities dismissed concerns that they have arrested scapegoats when questioned by reporters.

“Please be reassured that police have worked to their best ability so it’s not possible that they have arrested scapegoats,” Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said Friday.

In the weeks since the crime, police have come under intense pressure to solve the case after being criticised for mismanaging the probe.

Journalists were allowed to trample all over the crime scene hours after the murders, while information – often erroneous – flowed out unfiltered until the intervention of the nation’s top police officer.

In the days after the murders, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha was widely criticised for suggesting “tourists in bikinis” weren’t safe on the resort island.

There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere.
But can they be safe in bikinis… unless they are not beautiful?

Contains reporting by AFP.

Read: Reports vary as Thai police arrest three men over murder of British tourists>

Two British tourists murdered on Thai island after beach party>

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Dan MacGuill

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