Judgement in Koh Tao murder case due today

national December 24, 2015 01:00

By Pratch Rujivanarom,

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Activist, lawyer say flaw in the prosecution will help myanmar defendants

A KEY defence lawyer in the high-profile Koh Tao double-murder case expects good news for the two suspects, both Myanmar nationals, when the court deliver its verdict this morning.

“The case against the two defendants, after all, was unjustified to begin with,” Nakhon Chomphuchat said yesterday, referring to the legal proceedings against Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun on charges of brutally murdering two British tourists on the otherwise-idyllic island of Koh Tao, in Surat Thani province, in September 2014.

The brutal crimes against the Britons made headlines both locally and internationally, with authorities from not just Thailand but also the United Kingdom and Myanmar stepping in to look into the case.

Since the two migrant suspects complained that they had been forced into confessing to crimes they did not commit, they have received help from many quarters, including the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN).

According to British activist Andy Hall, who is the head of MWRN, Zaw Lin said yesterday: “I hope we will be released from prison tomorrow. We are confident of receiving justice in tomorrow’s judgement in our case.”

Hall, who is based in Thailand, specialises in protecting the rights of Myanmar labourers and exposing abuses.

He has actively worked alongside Nakhon in defending the two Myanmar migrants. In their eyes, there are many flaws in the evidence used to prosecute the two workers.

“The investigation and charges were conducted improperly, without any lawyers or witnesses present. There was also no translator for the defendants, and the gathering of DNA samples was done unwillingly,” Nakhon said.

He said the defendants had also been forced to confess to the crimes through a combination of torture and threats.

Moreover, there was no evidence of their DNA being found on the hoe that was used to kill the victims, he added.

“There was also a lack of significant plaintiff evidence against the defendants, and the DNA evidence on the plaintiff side was unreliable because it was gathered, tested and analysed improperly, and not in accordance with the international standard,” he stressed.

Some officials at the Central Institute of Forensic Science have even agreed to serve as defence witnesses.

Nakhon said Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were in good spirits yesterday and confident of receiving justice in their favour.

According to Hall’s tweets, the two defendants indeed seemed hopeful but clearly a little tense and nervous over the upcoming reading of the verdict.

Their mothers travelled to Surat Thani province yesterday as they prepared to attend the court’s verdict-reading session.

Accompanied by officials from the Myanmar Embassy, they appeared to be feeling under stress.

No matter which way today’s long-awaited verdict by Samui Provincial Court goes, there is a strong possibility that an appeal will be filed – and that legal proceedings will therefore drag on further.

“It is up to the court to judge on this case tomorrow [Thursday], but the case will not be over, as an appeal will surely follow,” Nakhon said.

Hall added that both MWRN and the lawyers involved in the case had assured the Myanmar defendants that they would continue to support and, if necessary, defend them, whatever today’s ruling turns out to be.


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