July 23, 2015
BANGKOK (AFP) - Thai police failed to check CCTV footage from the only pier on the island where a pair of British tourists were murdered last year, a lawyer for the two Myanmar nationals accused of the killings said Thursday.
Migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun are on trial for the murder of 24-year-old David Miller and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, on southern Koh Tao island in September.
Both men have pleaded not guilty and face the death penalty if convicted over a case which has tarnished Thailand's reputation as a tourist paradise and seen the police accused of bungling the investigation.
Under cross-examination Thursday a senior investigating police officer, Colonel Cherdpong Chiewpreecha, told a Koh Samui court that CCTV footage from the pier had not been examined after the double murders.
The pier is close to the beach were the battered bodies of the British holidaymakers were found and is the main route to and from the resort island.
"I asked whether police checked CCTV footage. He (the witness) replied no and that police had collected the footage but investigators thought it wasn't relevant," defence lawyer Nakhon Chomphuchat told AFP after the morning session.
The defence also alleged that a small boat was seen leaving the island shortly after the killings but the officer was unable to confirm this information.
Prosecutors have argued that DNA evidence implicates the two Myanmar migrants but the defence says an under-pressure police force have coerced confessions, later retracted, from the pair.
Attempts by the defence to independently test some of the key forensic evidence against their clients were thwarted after police told an earlier hearing that the samples had been used up.
The battered bodies of Miller and Witheridge were found on the sleepy diving island of Koh Tao on September 15.
Police say Miller had been struck by a single blow and left to drown in shallow surf while Witheridge had been raped and then beaten to death with a garden hoe.
Among a litany of apparent mistakes in the hours after the grisly discovery, Thai police were criticised for failing to secure the crime scene or close the pier.
The Myanmar pair are being tried on Koh Samui, near to Koh Tao. Reporters are not allowed to take notes during the trial which is expected to reach a verdict in October.