BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand’s premier said Wednesday that police will allow two Myanmar men accused of killing a pair of British tourists on a Thai island to have another DNA test, as questions mount over the murder probe.
Thai police hailed a breakthrough in their investigation of the double murders after claiming DNA from the accused migrant workers matched samples taken from the body of one of the victims and that the men had confessed.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were charged with the murder of David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, after the tourists’ battered bodies were found on the southern island of Koh Tao on September 15.
But last week the men, both in their 20s, retracted their confessions, alleging they were obtained under duress.
Criticism of the police handling of the case has swirled both in Thailand and overseas.
“We will allow suspects to take another DNA test,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting. “If they think that the previous tests were unfair we will conduct a second test.”
It was not immediately clear if the accused had requested a second DNA test.
Thai authorities have strongly denied using the pair as scapegoats, insisting the case is built on solid evidence showing the DNA of the accused from initial tests matches samples taken from Witheridge’s body.
British police have been allowed to observe the investigation after the UK expressed concerns and offered to help with the probe.
Before the murders, Thailand was already struggling to restore its tarnished image as a tourist haven after a May coup saw martial law imposed across the country.a