Koh Tao murders: Son of headman 'cleared by DNA test'

Koh Tao murders: Son of headman 'cleared by DNA test'

A DNA test result from the Police General Hospital's Institute of Forensic Medicine has cleared a 22-year-old man, watched closely by many Thai social-media users, in the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao. The institute compared the DNA of Warot Tuwichien to evidence at the scene as well as a DNA sample found on the female tourist's body and reported back to police that it didn't match any of them, a source reported yesterday.

Police are now waiting for DNA results from medical teams from Chulalongkorn Hospital, Siriraj Hospital and Ramathibodi Hospital, police spokesman Pol Lt-General Prawut Thawornsiri said. After receiving all the test results, police would report to a press conference, to be held today , he said.

On Thursday, police arranged for the DNA test by medical teams from four institutes on Warot - in front of the media - so as to boost public confidence in the police handling of the case. They were trying to clear public scepticism about their handling of the case amid claims that the two Myanmar men charged with the murders were scapegoats.

The murder of the two Britons on Koh Tao in September made headlines both locally and internationally and received close attention from the public, including social-media users. With the two Myanmar workers arrested for the killings claiming they were tortured into confessing, social media users urged that Warot - son of Woraphan Tuwichien, a village headman on Koh Tao and owner of a bar there - should be treated as a person of interest, despite police ruling him out as a suspect. Hence the man's father brought his son to meet police and undergo the DNA test.

Meanwhile, lawyer Aung Myo Than, who represents the two Myanmar suspects in the case, commented that "Thai police should make sure they have concrete evidence before the suspects are charged in court, as they may face the death penalty. The police submitted the DNA test as the only evidence and not a single witness was present. That's why Koh Samui prosecutors returned the case to the Thai police to find further evidence. Now they want to conduct a DNA test again. We have to consult the two defendants whether they want to go ahead with the second DNA test."

The Myanmar ambassador officially asked for help from the Lawyers' Council of Thailand on Wednesday and a special delegation from Myanmar Embassy was due to visit the two suspects at Koh Samui Prison late yesterday.


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