Thai Police today said that a 21-year old Burmese bar worker has confessed to the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on the holiday island of Koh Tao.
|Burmese suspects share a at about 10.30 pm motorbike behind Sairee Beach, Koh Tao.
Win is No 1 sandwiched between his friends – Picture Royal Thai Police
And they said they were holding two other Burmese who they believed to be accomplices. One has denied anything to do with the murders, but reports later said a a second man had now also confessed.
Police sources the statement was consistent with evidence they had already gathered. They moved in as Win had tried to leave Koh Tao last night by the 9 pm ferry after they issued a statement saying they were hot on the trail, the Matichon newspaper reported. He was picked up on arrival at the pier in Surat Thani and taken back. Win is believed to have worked at the ‘Safety Stop’ restaurant and bar in Koh Tao, and the other two at the AC bat.
Police said they had evidence of an LM Red cigarettes, a packet of which had been purchased at a convenience store earlier in the evening – on which, it is believed, had been found DNA similar to that of the killers. And one of the suspects had died his hair black again, having previously been dyed blond.
The short statement issued by Deputy Police Commissioner General Jakthip Chaijinda this evening identified the alleged killer by the Burmese name ‘Win’, from Rakhine State of Burma (Myanmar) who worked on Koh Tao but had been arrested on the mainland in the provincial capital Surat Thani.
But his alleged accomplices, two Burmese referred to as Maw, 23, and Saw, 21, worked in Kao Tao and were friends of Win, police said.
|Suspect Win – Khao Sod
Police made the announcement before they could confirm a match for the DNA of the two people who raped Hannah, aged 23, from Great Yarmouth.
But a large team of police left Bangkok for Koh Tao today with Police Commissioner General Somyot Phumphanmuang for a full announcement tomorrow.
And they produced video and CCTV pictures showing the three suspects on a motorcycle at about 10.30 in the evening, a suspect buying cigarettes at a 7/11 and what is claimed to be one of the suspects caught running shortly before dawn. But none of the suspects appears to have blond hair on September 15th.
|Allegedly one of the suspects shortly before down
|Suspect Win wearing the same T-shirt early on Sept 15 – Unless police did a re-enactment today.
The Nation newspaper quoted sources as saying that Win told the police he ‘saw the foreigners having sex so he made the attack with a plan to rape the woman’.
Saw admitted being on the beach where he played the guitar and smoked a cigarette but he went home and knew nothing about any killing, he said.
The reports are being treated with caution. Police appear to have been anxious to suspect foreigners and Burmese first in two weeks of an investigation notable for hasty and inaccurate statements, and allegations of the beating of suspects including Burmese.
On ThaiVisa.com the biggest foreign forum in Thailand there was widespread belief that the Burmese were being set up. And even in the Thai newspaper Khao Sod (Fresh News) many posters posted using the word ‘goat’ as in scape goat.
The Burmese who are treated as second class citizens in Thailand have had no access to a lawyer – and people are asking why they did not flee back to Burma, only a few hours away by boat and bus.
But police say they are confident of making the statement about the confession. They say the Burmese workers have been identified among the people caught on CCTV cameras on Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, at the time of the murders.
There was no DNA evidence on Hannah suggesting she had sex with David Miller, 24, from Jersey. But police said they did find a condom nearby.
The early evening announcement came on a day when British Ambassador Mark Kent called on police to offer British police and forensic expertise to the Royal Thai Police.
|Mark Kent with Thai Police today