I was hit, threatened by police: Myanmar man accused of Koh Tao murders

I was hit, threatened by police: Myanmar man accused of Koh Tao murders
Defendant Zaw Lin (C) arrives in the prison bus for his ongoing trial with Win Zaw Tun (not pictured), both accused of killing a pair of British backpackers in 2014, at the Koh Samui court on the Thai resort island on July 22, 2015.

One of two Myanmar men accused of murdering two British tourists told a court yesterday he admitted to crimes he did not commit after being physically assaulted and threatened with being killed.

At yesterday's hearing in Koh Samui Court, Zaw Lin, the first defendant, answered questions from a defence lawyer. During the defence's three-hour hearing he said he was assaulted by police.

He told the court that after his arrest, a police interpreter told him to admit to the crime or he would be killed. He was told that if he confessed, he would be imprisoned for "only four to five years".

Due to fear, he agreed to confess, the co-defendant told the court.

He said that before re-enactment of the crime at the scene of the murders, an interpreter suggested what should be done.

Zaw Lin testified that in November last year he signed his name to a written confession because he was still afraid of getting killed. He claimed that he did not understand the words in the document.

Later, he passed a hand-written note to a trusted lawyer, who regularly visited him at Koh Samui Prison.

He wrote: "I didn't kill. I knew nothing about the murders", and signed his name.

The lawyer later submitted Zaw Lin's petition seeking fair treatment and claim that he was not the real culprit.

The man told the court that he was hit by an interpreter after answering his question about a dispute in Rakhine State between Buddhists and Muslims. Zaw Lin said he told the interpreter he knew nothing much because he had lived at Koh Tao for some time already.

The other defendant in the murder case trial is Wai Phyo, who also testified later yesterday. Both defendants are 22.

In September last year, British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were murdered on the tourist island of Koh Tao. Witheridge was also raped. The two Myanmar workers were later arrested for the murders.

Officials from the National Human Rights Commission and the Myanmar Embassy were also present during yesterday's hearing.


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