Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The two Burmese migrant workers accused of the brutal killings of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on the Thai 'paradise island' of Koh Tao, have been given just 16 more days to prepare their case which has now been quietly been brought forward to Boxing Day.

But the prosecution has made no disclosure of their witness list or statements – while the defence has to produce full witness lists, says the lead defence lawyer Nakhon.* Chompuchat.

The defence has only a six page document to go on provided by the prosecution to the court and will have no time to prepare challenges to prosecution witnesses. In essence the defence will have to proceed without knowing what the prosecution is and what witnesses to call.

The defendants’ disadvantage has been compounded by the release through Britain’s Foreign Office statements by the families of Witheridge and Miller expressing confidence in the Thai police investigation. In short, they were saying that the media, which were suspicious of the Thai Police investigation, were wrong and Scotland Yard was right.
Hall, right, with BBCs Jonathan Head who has been closely following the case

Andy Hall, an advisor to the Migrant Worker Rights Network, who has been assisting in the defence, said that UK legal experts suggest that the FCO facilitated release by the Koh Tao victim parents' statements would be considered contempt of court in UK criminal case.

"The Foreign Office should be called to account. Why would they release this statement on the eve of the trial and what knowledge do they have of the police investigation - not much as far as I know. "

In statements issued last Friday the parents of Hannah Witheridge said:

"We would like to stress that as a family we are confident in the work that has been carried out into these atrocious crimes and want to remind both press and public that they do not have the full facts to report and make comment on at this stage. Current news reporting is causing undue distress to our family."

And the parents of David Miller said: "
'We would like to reiterate our gratitude to the UK Metropolitan Police, who received the co-operation of the Royal Thai Police in undertaking an independent review into the investigation. 
The evidence collected by the Royal Thai police will be presented at court and we hope the suspects are granted a fair and transparent trial. We are thankful of the over-sight of pressure groups such as Reprieve and Amnesty. 
In the meantime however, we ask that the speculative theories circulating on social media are not taken as fact. These interpretations are based on incomplete evidence and substantial conjecture." 
The increasing sensationalism of this story in the media is emotionally hurtful to us and appears to be wide of the mark. 
The support for the Myanmar suspects has been strong and vocal, but please do not jump to conclusions until you have considered the evidence from both sides in full. 
From what we have seen, the suspects have a difficult case to answer. The evidence against them appears to be powerful and convincing. They must respond to these charges, and their arguments must be considered with the same scrutiny as those of the prosecution."
The statements have been met with incredulity by many foreign journalists in Bangkok some of whom have been in contact with Embassy officials who did not give out any indications that Scotland Yard were happy with the Thai police investigation.

Neither of the families understand the political and feudal structure set up on these islands or that scapegoats are not uncommon in police investigations. Further, while there has been a lot of conjecture on the net - by no means all has been without substance.

"If the evidence is so strong," said Andy Hall, "why are Thai police not disclosing their evidence so a defence can be prepared against it.  Its not as if the defence are going to go around killing witnesses. The two Burmese are 21-years-olds. There is no mafia on the defence side."

A well known Burma specialist said: "Its all too incredible. Everyone knows that the Burmese in Thailand keep out of trouble as much as they can. They know what Thai police will do to them for even the smallest offences."

The parents of Hannah and David however have not responded to a prosecution offer that they join as co-prosecutors of the case.  In other cases, notably the murder of Canadian Leo del Pinto in Pai,Mae Hong Son province and the murders of  Britons Vanessa Arscott and Adam Lloyd in Kanchanaburi, parents have entered joint prosecutions so they could get access to all trial documents and get their own questions asked. But in those cases the people being prosecuted for murder were Thai policemen.

Meanwhile 21-year-old Wai Phyo has written an appeal to Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma.

In his letter Wai Phyo (previously known as Win Zaw Htun) and Zaw Lin say: 
 “To: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
We pay obedience to the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, our parents and our teachers.
The truth is we are not really involved in this case. We want you to help us. So we write this letter to you from our imprisonment. We were not involved in this crime. We do not want to be in jail anymore. We think the killer went to another country already. We think it is injustice that we are in the jail. We want justice and equality. 
When you are reading this letter, we do not know really how you will think about us, but if possible we want you to help us, and we are also asking the help from you.  
We are poor, so we came to Thailand to work and save money. My friend, Zaw Lin, he does not have father, he has to support his widow mother. 
I (Wai Phyo) also have to support my grandmother and parents. In the beginning when we arrived in Thailand we suffered many difficulties, we do not want to be suffering like poor people and we tried to work hard and sent money back to our parents regularly, we were happy so much for that.  
But now our hopes are broken. We are worried about our parents, who will support them, and we miss our parents every day, when we miss them we are crying. When we go to bed we pray for all people and creatures in the world to have safety, peace, good health and happiness. Please also pray for us to be released from this case.
A May Suu, please have pity on us.
Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin

In Britain the inquest into the death of Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, will open in the first week in January.

Actually there are police on Koh Tao - but they do not seem to control the place.

Meanwhile the following are the 10 required documents/evidence the defense must urgently assemble in Koh Samui. In all trials in Thailand the defence must submit a witness list.*

(1) List of how many witnesses/evidence will be brought for consideration of court;
(2) Explanation of how each of witnesses/evidence brought for consideration of court relates to particular charge or case issue;
(3) List of witnesses who will be called to give testimony of same issues;
(4) List of witnesses or evidence/information that request other side to accept;
(5) List of forensic science witnesses or evidence such as results of verification or experts that will be brought for consideration of the court and in relation to which specific case issues must be stated clearly;
(6) List of issues that require viewing of the scene or transferring to another court
(7) List of order of bringing to court the witnesses for testimony
(8) List of any child or youth witnesses below the age of 18 or any witnesses requiring translation during testimony
(9) List of witnesses that the court has to issue the summons to appear at the court on date of testimony
(10) Statement of the number of days the two parties to the case need to use for witness/evidence testimony

* Many years ago when I was prosecuted for libel by one of the owners of Boyz Boyz Boyz in Pattaya I had to go to trial for civil libel without presenting  a list of defence witnesses.  My lawyers - the Bangkok Post's lawyers had not presented a list to the court because unknown to me the newspaper settled quietly with the plaintiff  at my expense without telling me. The judge refused the list presented by my new lawyers as it was presented too late. I lost and the plaintiff's seized an old Rover car which I had bought from the British Embassy's Drugs Liaison Office. They could not use it for surveillance - too obviously British - besides it still had the flagpole on the front which they insisted on removing.


  1. From a poster - Letter sent to Guardian newspaper in UK

    I realise that the Guardian cannot be held accountable to the laws relating to Pre-judicial statements for cases overseas and I understand why the Guardian has chosen not to allow comments in the news story on the trial of the two Briton’s recently murdered in Thailand, refer link to your article below.

    However, the Royal Thai Police investigation of this case has been drawn into question, including concerns raised by Amnesty International of the accused having been tortured into confession, plus the torture and intimidation by the Royal Thai Police of material witnesses to the case.

    There is also well documented evidence of mishandling of evidence and credible reports of evidence having been planted.

    The UK Police who sent a team to monitor the case have yet to present their own report and there remains the possibility under UK law that the British Police may still investigate the murders.

    The statements by the family of the victims (made precisely as the trial goes to court AND before the British Police present their own report) are being used by the Thai prosecution team as ‘evidence’ that the Royal Thai Police have the real culprits. This is permitted in Thailand where character reference is still regarded as ‘evidence’.

    I do not dispute that the family have made these remarks and it is clearly correct for the Guardian to report the family’s statement.

    But I ask you to consider, two men stand accused of a crime for which, if found guilty, they very likely face execution, is it therefore right for the Guardian to present this report without a detailed examination of the case in favour of the accused?

    I am deeply disturbed by the Guardian’s lack of consideration of these points and the part the Guardian is playing in condemning the accused ahead of their trial.

    If you are having any difficulty obtaining information on the concerns over the conduct of this case I urge you to contact local Thailand based reporter Andrew Drummond, who I am sure will be more than willing to help explain the wide and serious concerns.

    With Regards

  2. This whole case stinks. And personally I am amazed the family's have made these remarks without proper consideration for the 2 Suspects having their life on the line. In fact I think I should personally contact them. I don't think that would be illegal????. They need to reconsider their statements as they are ill judged and seemingly made without knowledge of many facts in this case.

  3. The police have yet to produce their report SO WHY did they make the comments they did to the two families about the thoroughness of the Thai police investigation. Someone (the diplomatic service?) lent on the police and they lent on the families. The families were thus LED to make the comments they did. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post and it's repeated in this article, these actions would be contempt of court in the UK.

    As I said in the earlier piece, the Burmese will not now get a fair trial. The Guardian should be reporting the actions of the Met and the FCO and start asking questions.

    Looks like the police report and the coroner's review of the evidence next month will, unless there is also some leaning on people again, be academic. The case in Thailand will be decided and over.

  4. The police have yet to produce their report SO WHY did they make the comments they did to the two families about the thoroughness of the Thai police investigation. Someone (the diplomatic service?) lent on the police and they lent on the families. The families were thus LED to make the comments they did. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post and it's repeated in this article, these actions would be contempt of court in the UK.

    As I said in the earlier piece, the Burmese will not now get a fair trial. The Guardian should be reporting the actions of the Met and the FCO and start asking questions.

    Looks like the police report and the coroner's review of the evidence next month will, unless there is also some leaning on people again, be academic. The case in Thailand will be decided and over.

  5. Have the parents of the victims been informed of the process whereby the accused will not be supplied with the evidence upon which the prosecution intend to rely until the trial begins on Boxing Day? It may be that the information they allegedly received from New Scotland Yard could be relayed onto them which might be helpful to the course of justice.
    The Foreign Office should be utterly ashamed of themselves for that disgraceful press release allegedly on behalf of the families. Perfidious Albion indeed.

  6. I agree Gerry but you know why the FCO and the Met are having to do this don't you?

    Put bluntly, when Thailand says JUMP the response can only be HOW HIGH

    Look at the Kirsty Jones case. Blair got involved and got nowhere. The Jones family couldn't get information even through the Freedom of Information Act.

    UK democracy and justice. What UK democracy and justice?

    We all know of Thai justice. I'm ashamed to see the UK sheepishly following. As I said, Cameron, how are you sleeping at nights.

  7. Cameron, like Blair before him will more than likely be the executioner here, all in the name of trade relations.
    I hope these parents come to their senses and withdraw their comments, although its probably to late. It makes one ashamed to be British. The Thai police know who committed these murders. I hope Burma does all it can to protect these guys but I wouldnt hold my breath with the oil deals going on at the moment with both Dictators working hand in hand

  8. Can anyone give me an opinion on informing both family's on the situation that has arisen here. I know who Hannah's mother is Sue and Also Tony her father. I don't know them personally but by research also her sisters. Can anyone give an opinion. Whilst I am sure they are still grieving the possibility of these two suspects getting a fair trial is very slim. Almost non existent and both family's have tightened the noose even further. If they had followed the events they will surely have seen many pointers to possibly 2 young men being used as scapegoats. 2 people have died unnecessarily and god help us we shouldn't add 2 more to this terrible event if there are innocent. A fair honest and transparent trial is all that's needed

  9. "Its all too incredible. Everyone knows that the Burmese in Thailand keep out of trouble as much as they can. They know what Thai police will do to them for even the smallest offences.
    Okay..I get it..

    But sometimes the grief people feel doesn't allow them to have a clear mind with which to make sound judgements - especially when their children were ripped away from them in a worst case scenario nightmare - try walking a mile in their shoes and say with FULL conviction that you'd be 100% rational all the f---in' time..

    So as the armchair quarterbacks consider whether the parents of the victims are acting appropriately,
    Please also consider that many of us are long-time Thailand observers, unlike the ones whose kids were brutally murdered on Koh Tao. It's a horrible one-off for David and Hannah's parents to endure - and a Forced Learning Experience - of the darkest side of Thai culture - that they NEVER desired to know about in the first place..

    Yes there are those in Thailand in positions of corrupted power - who have decided (again) that any pound of (non-Thai) flesh will be suitable...

    StilI, lets not throw stones from our little glass houses just yet eh?

    Humans let themselves off the hook for most everything, but have little patience with other people's mistakes..a real One Way Street.


    The Golden Rule

    1. The families have no more drafted that press release than I did. It was prepared and disseminated by the Foreign Office in the name of the families. Nevertheless, if one were to learn that it was indeed made at the instigation of the families, independently of the FO, then it was an act of crass stupidity made by innocents with no comprehension of what passes for a rule of law in Thailand. That their tragedy should be compounded by the probability it will claim two more victims is not going to help anyone.

    2. "The media must know surely. Who is leaning on them?"

      Matt, The people leaning on the media are Probably the same (type of) folks that are suing Phuketwan Editor Alan Morison and his assistant Chutima Sidasathian, for reprinting a 41 word excerpt of a Pulitzer-prize winning article on the plight of the marginalized Rohingya, escaping maltreatment in Burma, so they head out to sea..

      That they frequently get intercepted in Thai waters and end up in certain Thai jungle detention camps, as slave labor, etc. is NOT something Thai authorities are eager to become public knowledge.. IRONICALLY it already is though.. but This Is Thailand to a T no?..

      Phuket authorities stopped publishing monthly lists of tourist deaths and drownings in April, 2012, I wonder why? Are they worried that tourism numbers would go down? Hello..they already are.. Media Transparency would be nice - ain't gonna happen for the foreseeable future..

      My (Thai) wife says that to stop corruption in Thailand - all the old people have to die and let the young one's start fresh.


      Wish upon a star..

    3. Wish upon a star......
      Along with disbanding the RTP, she probably has got it spot on.

    4. I'm more inclined to believe it's senior people in the UK putting pressure on the media, UK police, but hopefully not the UK justice system' We'll see when the coroner speaks.

      Thai youth is a different proposition and not related to why the UK is doing what it has to do.. Personally, I think they'll follow their feudal culture. 100 years maybe. And forget about anyone disbanding the RTP, though the military may get more influential. In some areas they already have flexed those muscles with the police. Gaw Tao surprised me but that's more mafia than police related. The military cannot be all powerful all at once.

    5. The Thai military are already setting out who will be in top posts and the ones who wont be needed and you can bet your last dime it is all to do with who did and who didnt support the red shirts

  10. Did anybody seriously think those Scotland Yard blokes would get this sorted out?

  11. Their hands are tied, Dick. And in that case, neither they nor the FCO should have made any comment and certainly not led the parents to make the comments they did.

    It's clear from the wording of the parents' statements that the Met did not give them a full unbiased account of the investigations, Shame on the FCO and the Met. I hope the parents, despite their grief, will retract their statements and perhaps consider that what they originally said was misjudged and may result in two more innocent lives being lost. They should feel for the parents of the Burmese and not assume that the two Burmese are guilty.

    Matt Owens Rees

  12. As rightly observed previously, that press release orchestrated by the Foreign Office would have been contempt of court if the offences were to have been tried in the UK. That department and the police knew this but evidently proceeded with it knowing the trial in Thailand would be further prejudiced even more than it was already. At best, and this is putting it charitably, the FO were simply being totally inept, incompetent and quite bone-headed. The families must be left in no doubt whatsoever that by their actions they have made it that much easier for the prosecution to heap more prejudicial weight to a case that simply would not meet any standards of judicial integrity elsewhere in the civilised world.
    To release that press statement was an appalling act of gross incompetence and the FO should be taken to task for it.

  13. I doubt incompetence. This spin would have been approved at a high level, not within the police or ordinary staffers.

    Because the UK owe so much money in loans to Thailand (and China incidentally) the West has to do their bidding. What's sad is this is being hushed up. The media must know surely. Who is leaning on them?

  14. If there was ever a reason to boycott Thailand, then here we have it. If your kids are murdered then in the name of good relations and unpaid loans to Thailand ,the Thais ( with the help of the British) Government) will find you some Burmese scspegoats and convince you that Thais would never do such a thing and they are doing their best to keep Burmese immigrants under control. Let Thailand reap what it has sewn.