Amnesty asks Koh Tao torture probe

Amnesty asks Koh Tao torture probe

Human rights group Amnesty International urged Thailand on Wednesday to investigate allegations that police tortured a pair of suspects who reportedly confessed to killing two British tourists on a southern island last month.

The tourists were found dead on the rocky shores of Koh Tao on Sept 15, and police last week arrested two migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar who they said had admitted responsibility for the killings. Police deny suspects were tortured, and say they have DNA evidence that backs up the confessions.

The arrests followed weeks of pressure on police to solve a case that dealt the latest blow to Thailand's tourism industry, which has been struggling to recover since the army staged a coup and imposed martial law in May.

Amnesty cited a lawyer from the Myanmar Embassy's legal team, who met with the suspects, as saying that one of the migrants "alleged police beat and threatened him with electrocution."

The group also said that "numerous sources have reported further acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of other migrant workers from Myanmar arrested by police in connection with the investigation."

"Thai authorities must initiate an independent, effective and transparent investigation into mounting allegations of torture and other ill-treatment by police,'' Amnesty said.

"The pressure to be seen to be solving an appalling crime that has garnered considerable attention should not result in the violation of rights, including to a fair trial."

On Tuesday, national police chief Somyot Poompanmuang held a press conference in Bangkok to quash speculation and allegations on social media that his officers had framed the suspects or were seeking scapegoats.

Another officer denied the torture allegations, and on Wednesday Police Lt. Gen. Jaktip Chaijinda, the head of the investigation team, told The Associated Press "there was neither torture, nor threats against the suspects in this case."

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