Key forensic re-testing sought

Key forensic re-testing sought

The Samui Provincial Court is likely to rule Friday on whether to allow two Myanmar men (above) accused of the Koh Tao beach murders to re-test forensic evidence held by police.
The Samui Provincial Court is likely to rule Friday on whether to allow two Myanmar men (above) accused of the Koh Tao beach murders to re-test forensic evidence held by police.

Surat Thani: Defence lawyers expect the Koh Samui Provincial Court will decide Friday whether to allow a re-examination of forensic evidence in the trial of two Myanmar nationals accused of murdering two British tourists on Koh Tao.

Lawyers representing Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun have requested the re-examination at the Justice Ministry's Central Institute of Forensic Science.

The forensic evidence in the case involving the murders of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge had been examined by the Office of Police Forensic Science.

The autopsy was carried out at the Police General Hospital before authorities sent the bodies back to the United Kingdom.

The defence team has questioned the reliability of the investigation and evidence used against the two Myanmar migrants.

Zaw Lin, 22, and Win Zaw Htun, 21, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Witheridge, 23, on Sept 15 last year.

The charges carry the maximum sentence of death.

Somsak Nurod, the chief investigator of Phangan police station, appeared before the court to discuss the defence team's request, although he was not on the witness list Thursday.

The jurisdiction of Phangan police station covers Koh Tao in Phangan district in Surat Thani province.

The officer will reply Friday in a letter about the evidence being kept by police at the station.

But he told the court that some items had already been taken during the forensic checking process.

They included two Marlboro cigarette butts, one L&M butt and a condom. Police also had about 300 cotton buds with DNA samples of the two defendants.

A shovel, sandals and flecks of sand soaked with blood remained at Phangan station, he added.

Outside the court, Pol Lt Col Somsak said.

"The DNA examination of the cigarette butts is complete.

"Of course, the items are kept appropriately," he said. "But the DNA samples taken from the bodies are not my responsibility. They are in Bangkok."

Teeravut Pramhun, the second deputy Samui prosecutor chief, said public prosecutors submitted a list of about 60 witnesses but the number could be reduced if they were to testify about the same events.

Meanwhile, the defence has compiled a list of about 20 witnesses.

Families of the victims and Myanmar embassy representatives, other observers and foreign media attended the second day of the hearing.

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