DNA found on the weapon allegedly used to kill two Britons on the Thai island of Koh Tao last year did not match those of the defendants currently on trial, a forensics expert said in court yesterday, dealing a blow to the prosecution case.
Pornthip Rojanasunand, head of the Justice Ministry’s forensics institute, told the Samui provincial court that the DNA found on the garden hoe used against Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, did not match that of the two Myanmar defendants accused of the murder.
Pornthip said the DNA belonged to two other men, but did not provide any further identification.
Nakhon Chomphuchat, the lead lawyer for the migrants, said yesterday’s testimony showed the two men “were not involved with the case as police have accused”.
Porntip Pornthip also told the court that there was no DNA found on other items tested by the forensics institute, including a shoe and some plastic bags.
Police had said DNA evidence found on the hoe by its own forensics team was from the defendants, but the trial judge allowed a defence request for a second opinion from Pornthip.
Other DNA evidence, found on Witheridge’s body, was too damaged to be re-examined, a police witness had said earlier in the trial.
The badly beaten bodies of Miller and Witheridge were found in September last year on a beach on Koh Tao, 350 kilometres south of Bangkok.
Defendants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were arrested in October and confessed to the crimes, but later withdrew their statements, saying they were tortured.
British and Myanmar envoys have raised concerns about the Thai investigation, with London sending a police team as observers. Thai police have denied the accusations of torture or misconduct.