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Burma’s military commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing has called for justice in the case of two Burmese suspects being held for the murder of British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Koh Tao on 15 September.
Speaking to Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Tanasak Patimapragorn in Naypyidaw on Thursday, Burma’s senior military leader urged the Thai government to ensure that the Burmese embassy’s special investigation team on the case “can conduct their work freely to uncover the truth”, according to Burmese state media on Friday.
Using a phrase very similar to the well-known legal maxim Blackstone’s Formulation, Min Aung Hlaing said, it is [better] “that “many guilty persons should escape unpunished, than one innocent person should suffer.”
The meeting between Min Aung Hlaing and Tanasak was part of a high-level official delegation to Burma headed by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, his first official trip abroad since he acquired power in a May coup.
The two-day trip by Prayuth is scheduled to cement several MoUs and investment deals, however the ceremonial nature of the visit threatens to be overshadowed by the high-profile Koh Tao case, in which two 21-year-old Arakanese men, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, are being detained pending charges of rape and murder.
Allegations have emerged that the pair claim to have been tortured ahead of their confession. However, Thai police have rejected the accusations, saying this was a “perfect investigation”.
Thai media reported on Thursday that prosecutors in the case have rejected the 850-plus page report on the police investigation. Citing the case’s high profile, prosecutors reportedly told the police the report was “flawed”, needed to be “fortified with more relevant information” and “made shorter”.
On Friday, Pol Maj-Gen Apichart Boonsriroj, commander of Suratthani provincial police, said that a request had been lodged with the public prosecutor to bring the three Burmese detainees to court to testify in advance of the trial.
Thai newspaper Khao Sod reported that the director of the prison on Koh Samui, where the suspects are being held, has advised that they are on suicide watch.
“I have instructed other inmates to monitor the two Burmese men. I am afraid they may commit suicide, because they show signs of stress,” said Chanin Liangsuwan, chief of Koh Samui District Prison. “They may be feeling guilty for the crime they [committed].”
English tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were found battered to death on a rocky section of Sairee Beach on Koh Tao in the early hours of 15 September.
A candlelit vigil was held in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, on Wednesday night by Burmese migrants led by “Saffron Revolution” monk U Gambira to pay respects and pray for the souls of the deceased couple.