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Suspects in British tourist murders in Thailand withdraw confessions

A consular attorney from the Myanmar Embassy in Thailand said the two Burmese migrant workers who confessed to killing British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on a Thai island last month now assert their confessions were made under duress.

By JC Finley
Suspects in British tourist murders in Thailand withdraw confessions
Two Burmese migrant workers who confessed to killing British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on the Thai resort island of Koh Tao have recanted their confessions, claiming they were made under duress. (Flickr/David Sim)

BANGKOK, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The Burmese migrant workers who admitted to murdering two young British tourists on the popular Thai resort island of Koh Tao on Sept. 15 have recanted their confessions.

According to a consular attorney for Zaw Lin and Win Zaq Htun, the men confessed under duress.

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Aung Myo Thant, a lawyer from the Myanmar Embassy, was quoted in a Thai newspaper as saying, "They said they didn't do it, that the Thai police [along with their Myanmar-Thai translator] beat them until they confessed to something they didn't do."

The accused have reportedly sought assistance from the Myanmar government to investigate their claims.

Amnesty International has echoed that call, urging the Thai police to initiate an independent investigation into the claims of force to extract a confession.

David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were on a backpacking holiday when their partially clothed and beaten bodies were found on the beach. A bloodied hoe, believed to be the murder weapon, was found near their bodies. An autopsy indicated Miller had water in his lungs, a sign he struggled in the water with his assailant before he died. Witheridge died from severe head wounds and evidence showed she had been raped.

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Police Commissioner Gen. Somyot Poompanmuang has previously said that DNA samples taken from the two Burmese men matches DNA found on Witheridge.

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