The two Burmese migrant workers accused of the brutal killings of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on the Thai ‘paradise island’ of Koh Tao, have been given just 16 more days to prepare their case which has now been quietly been brought forward to Boxing Day.
But the prosecution has made no disclosure of their witness list or statements – while the defence has to produce full witness lists, says the lead defence lawyer Nakhon.* Chompuchat.
The defence has only a six page document to go on provided by the prosecution to the court and will have no time to prepare challenges to prosecution witnesses. In essence the defence will have to proceed without knowing what the prosecution is and what witnesses to call.
The defendants’ disadvantage has been compounded by the release through Britain’s Foreign Office statements by the families of Witheridge and Miller expressing confidence in the Thai police investigation. In short, they were saying that the media, which were suspicious of the Thai Police investigation, were wrong and Scotland Yard was right.
|Hall, right, with BBCs Jonathan Head who has been closely following the case|
Andy Hall, an advisor to the Migrant Worker Rights Network, who has been assisting in the defence, said that UK legal experts suggest that the FCO facilitated release by the Koh Tao victim parents’ statements would be considered contempt of court in UK criminal case.
“The Foreign Office should be called to account. Why would they release this statement on the eve of the trial and what knowledge do they have of the police investigation – not much as far as I know. “
In statements issued last Friday the parents of Hannah Witheridge said:
“We would like to stress that as a family we are confident in the work that has been carried out into these atrocious crimes and want to remind both press and public that they do not have the full facts to report and make comment on at this stage. Current news reporting is causing undue distress to our family.”
And the parents of David Miller said: “
‘We would like to reiterate our gratitude to the UK Metropolitan Police, who received the co-operation of the Royal Thai Police in undertaking an independent review into the investigation.
The evidence collected by the Royal Thai police will be presented at court and we hope the suspects are granted a fair and transparent trial. We are thankful of the over-sight of pressure groups such as Reprieve and Amnesty.
In the meantime however, we ask that the speculative theories circulating on social media are not taken as fact. These interpretations are based on incomplete evidence and substantial conjecture.”
The increasing sensationalism of this story in the media is emotionally hurtful to us and appears to be wide of the mark.
The support for the Myanmar suspects has been strong and vocal, but please do not jump to conclusions until you have considered the evidence from both sides in full.
From what we have seen, the suspects have a difficult case to answer. The evidence against them appears to be powerful and convincing. They must respond to these charges, and their arguments must be considered with the same scrutiny as those of the prosecution.”
The statements have been met with incredulity by many foreign journalists in Bangkok some of whom have been in contact with Embassy officials who did not give out any indications that Scotland Yard were happy with the Thai police investigation.
Neither of the families understand the political and feudal structure set up on these islands or that scapegoats are not uncommon in police investigations. Further, while there has been a lot of conjecture on the net – by no means all has been without substance.
“If the evidence is so strong,” said Andy Hall, “why are Thai police not disclosing their evidence so a defence can be prepared against it. Its not as if the defence are going to go around killing witnesses. The two Burmese are 21-years-olds. There is no mafia on the defence side.”
A well known Burma specialist said: “Its all too incredible. Everyone knows that the Burmese in Thailand keep out of trouble as much as they can. They know what Thai police will do to them for even the smallest offences.”
The parents of Hannah and David however have not responded to a prosecution offer that they join as co-prosecutors of the case. In other cases, notably the murder of Canadian Leo del Pinto in Pai,Mae Hong Son province and the murders of Britons Vanessa Arscott and Adam Lloyd in Kanchanaburi, parents have entered joint prosecutions so they could get access to all trial documents and get their own questions asked. But in those cases the people being prosecuted for murder were Thai policemen.
Meanwhile 21-year-old Wai Phyo has written an appeal to Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma.
In his letter Wai Phyo (previously known as Win Zaw Htun) and Zaw Lin say:
“To: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
We pay obedience to the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, our parents and our teachers.
The truth is we are not really involved in this case. We want you to help us. So we write this letter to you from our imprisonment. We were not involved in this crime. We do not want to be in jail anymore. We think the killer went to another country already. We think it is injustice that we are in the jail. We want justice and equality.
When you are reading this letter, we do not know really how you will think about us, but if possible we want you to help us, and we are also asking the help from you.
We are poor, so we came to Thailand to work and save money. My friend, Zaw Lin, he does not have father, he has to support his widow mother.
I (Wai Phyo) also have to support my grandmother and parents. In the beginning when we arrived in Thailand we suffered many difficulties, we do not want to be suffering like poor people and we tried to work hard and sent money back to our parents regularly, we were happy so much for that.
But now our hopes are broken. We are worried about our parents, who will support them, and we miss our parents every day, when we miss them we are crying. When we go to bed we pray for all people and creatures in the world to have safety, peace, good health and happiness. Please also pray for us to be released from this case.
A May Suu, please have pity on us.
Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin
In Britain the inquest into the death of Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, will open in the first week in January.
|Actually there are police on Koh Tao – but they do not seem to control the place.|
Meanwhile the following are the 10 required documents/evidence the defense must urgently assemble in Koh Samui. In all trials in Thailand the defence must submit a witness list.*
(1) List of how many witnesses/evidence will be brought for consideration of court;
(2) Explanation of how each of witnesses/evidence brought for consideration of court relates to particular charge or case issue;
(3) List of witnesses who will be called to give testimony of same issues;
(4) List of witnesses or evidence/information that request other side to accept;
(5) List of forensic science witnesses or evidence such as results of verification or experts that will be brought for consideration of the court and in relation to which specific case issues must be stated clearly;
(6) List of issues that require viewing of the scene or transferring to another court
(7) List of order of bringing to court the witnesses for testimony
(8) List of any child or youth witnesses below the age of 18 or any witnesses requiring translation during testimony
(9) List of witnesses that the court has to issue the summons to appear at the court on date of testimony
(10) Statement of the number of days the two parties to the case need to use for witness/evidence testimony
* Many years ago when I was prosecuted for libel by one of the owners of Boyz Boyz Boyz in Pattaya I had to go to trial for civil libel without presenting a list of defence witnesses. My lawyers – the Bangkok Post’s lawyers had not presented a list to the court because unknown to me the newspaper settled quietly with the plaintiff at my expense without telling me. The judge refused the list presented by my new lawyers as it was presented too late. I lost and the plaintiff’s seized an old Rover car which I had bought from the British Embassy’s Drugs Liaison Office. They could not use it for surveillance – too obviously British – besides it still had the flagpole on the front which they insisted on removing.