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Saturday, Oct 4, 2014

Asia

Thai police charge Myanmar men with murder of British tourists

AFP | Saturday, Oct 4, 2014

Miss Hannah Witheridge, 23, and Mr David Miller, 24, were found on Sept 15 with severe head wounds near where they were staying on the southern island of Koh Tao.

THAILAND - Thai police charged two Myanmar men on Friday with the murders of British tourists Mr David Miller, 24, and Miss Hannah Witheridge, 23.

Authorities said the undocumented migrant workers have confessed to murdering the pair, whose battered bodies were found on Koh Tao on Sept 15.

Police chief of neighbouring Koh Phangan island, Prachum Ruangthong, said: "The two Myanmar nationals are charged with murder (of both tourists), gang rape (of Ms Witheridge) and stealing."

The suspects have been identified only as Win, 21, and Saw, 23, from Rakhine state.

Third man under police protection

Thai national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said: "Two Myanmar suspects have confessed to killing the pair."

"DNA test results (from the two men) confirmed that the same DNA was found in the body of the (female) victim."

The two men are among three Myanmar nationals who have held since Thursday on suspicion of involvement in the crime.

The third man is believed to be a witness and is currently under police protection, said provincial police chief Kiattipong Khaosamang.

Re-enact the crime

On Friday, investigators took the two men to the island to re-enact the crime.

The suspects were handcuffed and surrounded by scores of police officers. They were wearing bullet-proof vests and white helmets.

Mr Kiattipong said both men raped Ms Witheridge, and that the tourists were killed with a wooden stick and a garden hoe, which was found bloodied at the scene.

Thai authorities have dismissed concerns that the men are just scapegoats.

Thailand's prime minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha said on Friday:​ "I would like to affirm that this case was not the arrest of scapegoats as it could be proved from the DNA found on the victim."

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