Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thursday, May 07, 2015


The Burmese Migrant Rights Network is issuing a further appeal for funds as the trial of Zaw Lin and We Phyp approaches in Koh Samui.  This is a court which has frequently bowed in favour of local ‘mafia’ or rather ‘influential people’.

But while you cannot stop the murders which have already happened and merely watch pictures and videos of mass graves of migrant workers in south Thailand, you can help put up as spirited a defence for these two twenty one year olds who face the death sentence by lethal injection.

Andy Hall of MVRN has done a good job of keeping this case in the public eye, despite I suspect sometimes, of having relunctantly to cool things due legal pressures and ‘host country’ stuff.
But he has put together a Timeline of the case:

Summary Koh Tao Murder Case Timeline 2014

Deceased Arrive Separately with Friends to Koh Tao
 12th Sept: Hannah Witheridge, David Miller and friends arrive on Koh Tao. Stay at Ocean View Bungalows, Sairee Beach

Deceased’s Final Moments/Crime Scene Activity

·  14th Sept pm to 15th Sept 2am: selective CCTV footage released by the prosecution captures Hannah Witheridge and David Miller at Sairee Beach, both at Choppers Bar and entering (separately) into AC Bar

·  14th Sept 11pm to 15th Sept 1am: selective CCTV footage released by the prosecution captures Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo and one friend purchasing cigarettes on Sairee Beach, close to AC Bar and
where Hannah and David’s bodies were found

·  15th Sept 345 am to 5 am: selective CCTV footage released by the prosecution captures unclear movements and a person running, near to where Hannah and David’s bodies were discovered

·  15th Sept 6 am: prosecution documents suggest Hannah and David’s bodies are found by beach cleaners at rocks on Sairee Beach close to the Ocean View Bungalows where both of them were allegedly staying.

·  15th Sept 630 am: according to prosecution documents, police officers are formally notified of the discovery of two bodies by rocks near Ocean View Bungalows on Sairee Beach

·  15th Sept 730 am: according to prosecution documents, crime scene investigators are formally notified of the discovery of two bodies by rocks near Ocean View Bungalows on Sairee Beach

·  15th Sept 11 am: according to prosecution documents, investigators arrive at the crime scene, which according to allegations from numerous sources, was not properly sealed and was disturbed following discovery of the bodies.

Case Investigation Process and Migrant Abuse Allegations

·  15th Sept to 2nd Oct: murder case investigations are conducted publicly in an extremely chaotic
manner. Conflicting disorganised police statements given whereby key suspects change frequently from non-Thai friends of the deceased, Thai island based residents, speedboat drivers, influential Thai persons and Myanmar migrants.

Police allege DNA testing on cigarettes found nearby the bodies of Hannah and David and semen found in/on the body of Hannah was crucial in finding those responsible. DNA samples taken from hundreds of persons, mostly migrants, living on Koh Tao or suspected of involvement in the murders

·  18th Sept to 2nd Oct: migrant workers on Koh Tao Island petition MWRN alleging physical and verbal abuse at the hands of Koh Tao case investigation officials. Migrant communities alleged in fear that Thai authorities were seeking to scapegoat Myanmar migrant workers. Photographs and video evidence of this abuse is gathered by MWRN

Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Defendants

·  2nd Oct: Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo are arrested. Zaw Lin is arrested on Koh Tao and Wei Phyo at a ferry terminal in Muang district, Surat Thani province. Prior to formal investigation, both are allegedly held in an undisclosed location. Police subsequently report that both Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo confess to the murders and that DNA forensic evidence links them to the crime scene and DNA on Hannah’s body

·  3rd Oct: Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo publicly re-enact the crime scene on Sairee Beach

This way - no that way!

·  7th Oct: a Commissioner from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) visits Wei Phyo and Zaw Lin in Koh Samui prison. He reports to media that Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo confessed to the crimes but alleged physical abuse and torture during interrogation. Rights groups protest against potentially prejudicial information or statements publicly being made by the NHRC Commissioner without an adequate investigation and without lawyers present

They begged forgiveness said Thai Police

·  14th Oct: Koh Samui Court holds a preliminary witness hearing for 3 Myanmar prosecution witnesses at risk of disappearing. Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo attend and are represented by lawyers from the Lawyers Council of Thailand (LCT). The witnesses testify: (1) Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo were on Sairee Beach on 14th Sept. night close to the place where the bodies of Hannah and David were found; (2) Wei Phyo found a mobile phone, which he said he found, which may have belonged to David but passed it onto his friend. No other evidence presented at this hearing linked Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo to the murders

Another view - scapegoats

·  21st Oct: Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo retract their confessions to lawyers from the Lawyers Council of Thailand (LCT) at Koh Samui prison. Both allege beatings and torture in order to elicit the confessions and assert innocence against all charges. Both allege that on the night of the killings, they were merely playing their guitar, singing, drinking and relaxing on Sairee beach. Wei Phyo reported that he simply came across possessions allegedly belonging to the deceased that evening. Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo petition Koh Samui Prosecutors Office and the Attorney General calling for reconsideration of their prosecution

·  6th Nov: Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo retract their confessions to case investigation officials at Koh Samui prison, in presence of their lawyers, alleging beating and torture in order to elicit the confessions and asserting their innocence against all charges

·  26th Nov: Koh Samui Court rejects a first bail application by Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo. The application is guaranteed by the Myanmar embassy but Embassy officials present no surety to the court.

(with Embassy officials)

·  2nd Dec: a 6th detention extension request by the prosecution, for a 4th time contested by lawyers for Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo, is approved by Koh Samui Court. Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo insist to the court judge that they are innocent of all the charges against them and have nothing to do with the murders

·  4th Dec: Multiple criminal charges filed against Zaw Lin/Wei Phyo by Koh Samui Prosecutors Office at Koh Samui Court

·  8th Dec: Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo are charged at Koh Samui Court. Both maintain their innocence against all the charges

Court Proceedings Begin

 26th Dec: at a preliminary case hearing, 18 full days for witness testimony over 3 months are agreed upon, starting from 8th July 2015. Defense lawyers request some witness testimony at a Bangkok Court. The court disallows this but leaves open a possibility of witness testimony given via video link from overseas or from Bangkok. When asked by the judge to again plead in relation to the charges, Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo insist they are innocent of all the charges. When asked by the judge whether they know who was involved in the murders, both Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo say they know nothing about the murders and who was responsible as they were merely relaxing on Sairee beach that night and didn’t see or hear anything. The defense team presents to the court the valid passport of Zaw Lin to rebut charges of illegal entry into Thailand

30th Apr 2015: Koh Samui court holds a preliminary case hearing with the prosecution and defense lawyers appointed to explain progress regarding preparation of case witnesses. The court rules to allow two important requests by the accused's defense team that: (1) several items of the prosecution’s physical evidence are sent to the Ministry of Justice’s Central Institute of Forensic Science for re-examination; and (2) the Royal Thai Police should provide additional information to the court and defense concerning details of analysis of case DNA evidence.

For more background on the case from the MWRN and comments on statements and actions by the British authorities go here.

Reader's submission


  1. Yet another Thai judicial farce

  2. Talking about human rights, equality under the law, or a fair system of jurisprudence in Thailand is a bit like trying to teach a mermaid to peddle a bike. The Thai system is feudal, a patronage system that has become totally riddled with nepotism and corruption.

    Thai society has a thin veneer of false respectability. Shiny uniforms, colorful temples and polite public behaviour can't hide the fact many officials, police, politicians and even monks are no better than common criminals stealing from their society. They will then do anything and everything to avoid scrutiny. That includes scapegoating and even murder.

    Thailand has a predator ruling class, people with an inborn, unearned sense of superiority where they think the rule of law only applies to the poorer masses. Many police are no more than paid lackeys for politicians or rich businessmen.

    No person of a higher status ever faces justice or jail in Thailand. The dysfunctional and corrupt legal system is set up to protect the rich and privileged who can seemingly deny justice forever with endless appeals and legal shenanigans.

    Thailand is like a drunk or drug addict in denial, claiming their 'international reputation' is paramount and must be secured and protected at all costs. Just what reputation are they dreaming about? The reputation as a totally corrupt country? The reputation of having the world's most thriving sex industry? The slavery and human trafficking rampant in the country? A police force so hated and so corrupt it was branded a 'criminal organisation' by U.S law enforcement? A religious system that resembles the Catholic Church with saffron robes? Monks living like millionaire rock stars with million dollar bank accounts? Politicians stealing public lands to build mansions and resorts with money they steal from the Thai public?

    Thailand should be called the "Kingdom of Illusions" because behind the facade of respectability is a dirty, corrupt and criminal system run by crooks in uniform. The Thai citizen deserves better but that have been subverted into silence by threats and intimidation. leaving people feeling powerless and helpless to instigate change.

    A system only really reflects the values of the people who make up that system. Until Thais see that corruption is a cancer that has infested their society and seek change, nothing will change for the better. Surveys says that Thai people feel corruption is fine as long as they get some benefit from it. That is the root of all the problems in the country. Nobody want to fix a sick system- they just want their fair share of the corruption pie.

    1. Well written Tommy, you've summed it up perfectly.
      What, I wonder, is the latest on the Red Bull heir case?

    2. Santika Pub fire with 60 people or more burnt to death. The owner walked free on appeal. Moo Ham was given a slap on the wrist for killing people in his Benz because he was unhappy. Given a 2 year suspended sentence as he was 'mentally ill'. The young girl from the high so family who killed about 8 or 9 people on the expressway whilst illegally driving as a 15 year old also given suspended sentence.

      Thaksin, Kunman Poh, Maleenont, Avasahame and a long list of others politicians who were said to have fled but are often seen wandering free in their own homes in Thailand. The Tiger disco fire in Patong is another case dragging along. If I thought about it I could probably remember 50 cases where some high- so arsehole has walked free on appeal. Like Thaksin's wife on her tax evasion charges, What was an open and shut case of fraud just got booted on appeal. These appeal judges must pocked millions as this is where most of the cases get rail-roaded.

      This is not even considering the thousands of cases where some poor person has had the book thrown at them after confessing to charges they probably never committed. The police use electric shocks, plastic bags to suffocate, water to half drown people or just bash a confession out of a poor person.

      These two Burmese lads probably have no hope unless outside people keep up the pressure for transparency. Andy Hall is a great man but he wouldn't be the first whistle blower knocked in Thailand. I hope he stays safe.

  3. "WHUMP" - as Tommy hits a 3 and a half inch concrete nail dead flush on the proverbial head.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, It's ALL about keeping that rice pot full, and I don't mean full of rice. There are five main reasons for the "over the top" corruption in the LOS, and here they finally are, scientifically ranked no less - from most important to least important in the minds of 95.6% of Thais as polled in 2014..


    ***Poll results released May 7, 2015 - by Canadian Pollsters Ipsos Reid