Thai police turn focus to friends of slain man

Thai police turn focus to friends of slain man
Christopher Alan Ware

THAILAND - Police investigation into the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao last Sunday has shifted from migrant workers to friends of the male victim, while autopsy results have provided revealing information about the gruesome crimes.

Pol Lt-General Panya Mamen, commander of Police Region 8, said yesterday that British citizen Christopher Alan Ware, a travel companion of victim David William Miller, had cooperated in giving information to the police in an interview at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok. Samples of Ware's DNA had also been collected since he was on Koh Tao.

Police are giving most weight to scientifically proven evidence from the autopsies, Panya added.

A police source, quoting an Institute of Forensic Medicine (IFM) scientist, Pol Major Kaywalee Janphan, said DNA-based identification of a single blond hair found in the hand of the other victim, Hannah Victoria Witheridge, was not possible, because the hair's cell was not intact.

Police had interviewed six migrant workers and a number of Thais, he said. Three female friends of Witheridge had also been interviewed and were allow-ed to return to Britain.

Panya said an extra 150 members of the Tourist and Marine Police had been deployed on Koh Tao and at piers on the coast of neighbouring Chumphon province to heighten security and boost tourists' confidence.

Deputy police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung said earlier that police had asked two friends of Miller to remain in Thailand for 48 hours pending analysis of DNA samples collected from the victims' bodies.

Miller's friends, whom Somyot did not identify, were at Suvarnabhumi Airport, about to leave Thailand. "We have asked the British Embassy in Thailand to ask for their cooperation in staying in Thailand while the investigation continues."

Police on Tuesday night ruled out three Myanmar workers as suspects after interviewing them and searching their rooms. Panya was quoted as saying that the three men had been very far from the scene of the double murders, adding that DNA samples had been collected from them.

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