DNA found on the weapon allegedly used to kill two British backpackers on Koh Tao last year does not match that of either of the Myanmar men on trial for their murders, Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, director-general of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, told a Koh Samui court Friday.
DNA found on the garden hoe used against Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, did not match those of the two Myanmar defendants accused of the murder.
Testifying as a defence witness for migrant bar workers Zaw Lin, 22, and Win Zaw Htun, 21, Khunying Pornthip told the Surat Thani province court that DNA samples taken from a garden hoe said to be the murder weapon did not belong to the two accused, but to two other men who had yet to be identified, according to a German Press Agency report.
Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan
Sky News reported that both a full sample and partial sample of DNA were pulled from the hoe and tested.
Prosecutors have charged the Myanmar men with using the hoe to kill David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, on Koh Tao's Sai Ree beach on Sept 15 a year ago. Witheridge also had been raped.
Police initially said DNA evidence found on the hoe by its own forensics team was from the defendants, but the trial judge allowed a defence request for a second opinion from Pornthip. BBC News reported that police later admitted during testimony that they failed to take DNA samples from the supposed murder weapon, examining fingerprints instead.
Sky News said Khunying Porntip testified that police also treated the murder scene carelessly, moving at least one of the bodies, which potentially destroyed evidence. Furthermore, she said, blood was not DNA-tested.
Friday's revelation is the latest blow to prosecutors and police who have been lambasted for the past year over their handling of the case. Both Myanmar men said they were tortured to give confessions, which they later recanted, while the trial has exposed more inconsistencies, including improper collection of evidence, intimidation of defence translators and abuse of witnesses.
British and Myanmar envoys have raised concerns about the investigation, with London sending a police team to observe police before the trial.
Witnesses, including police, doctors and people living on the island, are due to testify until Sept 25. A ruling is expected a month after the trial ends.