Saturday, January 2, 2016

Saturday, January 02, 2016

As the row over the conviction and death sentences of two young Burmese for the murders of Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on the Thai cisland of Koh Tao continued to boil – it has become apparent that the controversial case has become a rallying point for other victims and relatives of victims of Thai justice.

Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin with Burmese Embassy officials pre-trial

While the Burmese government has asked Thailand to review the case and the Ambassador has complainied about being misquoted in a Bangkok Post report, demonstrations continue in Burma and at Thai Embassies abroad hundreds of Brits, including many expats, have gone on social media to express their views on Thai police and the justice system.

Colin Vard at Ministry of Justice

Sue Jones
And they have been joined by Sue Jones, the mother of Kirsty Jones who was murdered and rape in Chiang Mai in 2000, followed by another botched investigation, Pauline Ayling whose husband Paul was murdered in Hua Hin in 2012, followed by seemingly no investigation at all, and Vanida Boongeon whose husband was gunned down in Chaiyaphum in 2013 followed by other failed investigation.

And they are joined by Irish man Colin Vard who had seven properties ripped off him in Phuket he says by crooked police, bank staff, money lenders and lawyer; Briton Ian Rance who was ripped off in a similar way and Annie Hansen mother of Jack Hansen-Bartel who is facing corrupt officials in Samui having been attacked in a club by the son of a Chinese American millionaire.

Colin Vard’s daughter has the ‘Justice for Jessie’ Facebook and a Justice for Jack’ page has been set up for Jack Hansen Bartel.  The Rance family has several videos up on YouTube.

Anita Hayling with her husband in Hua Hin hospital. He was ambushed on his motorbike with a wooden club and died
;later in the UK

A ‘Thailand Justice’ Facebook page is one of many which carries widespread criticism.  The Thai authorities have now backed away from suggesting that it is some sort of political conspiracy against them a theory which was promoted by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon who wanted a manhunt for the culprits.

Annie Hansen

While Thai citizens know to be wary of their own police force, it appears the government is unaware that foreigners are also wary and have been major victims, and is surprised at the reaction both of westerners and Burmese.
American Thai Vanida Boongeon

Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan Pingmuang announced that there were prosecutions in 126 murder cases involving Myanmar people in Thailand over the past year and wondered why there was no fuss over those cases.

This presumably was to suggest that the Burmese were a murderous lot and this sort of thing was not unusual.  However it seems to have had the effect of causing people to wonder what the Thai authorities had done to those 126 Burmese and when will Thailand publish its next murder statistics.

It is now known that the trial judges completely dismissed the evidence of Thailand’s Chief Forensic scientist Dr. Pornthip Rojanasund and contemptuously dismissed the evidence of Andy Hall of the Myanmar Workers Rights Network who testified to the discrepancies in the Thai Post Mortem compared with one carried out on Hannah Witheridge in Norwich; and the identification of the ‘running man’ in the CCTV video on Koh Tao.

And if the following assessment is to be believed it appears that the court did not really understand DNA nor did the prosecution witnesses.  This comes from a person who had been at the trial with considerable medical and legal experience.

1. It consists of a one page table replete with hand written amendments, date changes and data alterations. This document would NOT be admissible in any court in the UK, Australia, USA, EU, Hong Kong, Malaysia or Singapore. 
2. It is NOT supported by any case notes, chain-of-custody records, nor statistics based on validated population data bases. The omission of that information is a COMPLETE abrogation of international ISO 17025 standards and would lead to a FULL audit of the police laboratory by an international accreditation agency!
3. The table has been used to match DNA components, which is an extreme oversimplification of the entire DNA process! It relies on single alleles rather than genotypes. (An allele is ONE of a pair of genes that appear in ONE part of a chromosome that help to determine heredity traits.)
4. Because there is NO statistical analysis to determine the probability of the stated frequencies in the table, it is absolutely NOT possible to determine the likelihood of the accused as being the contributors to the mixture! There, in fact, could be a VERY large number of other individuals who could NOT be ruled out as contributors! 
5. It is, therefore, COMPLETELY erroneous (wrong) to claim a DNA match on the basis of the position of mere alleles on a DNA molecule without statistics to determine the probability!

For these reasons, it CANNOT be said (from any kind of scientific or legal standpoint) that there was a match between the DNA from the semen the police alleged to have and the DNA that was (forcibly, without consent or legal representation) retrieved from the two accused! Basing the conviction on COMPLETELY flawed DNA evidence has resulted in an EXTREME miscarriage of justice!


  1. Is it too much to expect the Thai authorities to take on board some of these criticisms from Westerners, and to implement some sort of reforms to the criminal justice system?
    It probably is, but wide scale reform to the Police and to the Courts is obviously long overdue.

    1. So long as the 'farang' (Westerners) here keep bleating 'You'll never win against a Thai' and keep rolling over, together with this weird 'omerta' among the expat community re any wrongdoings, yes, we and the Thai people will continue to suffer. For myself I absolutely refuse to give up. After five years and counting I'll get that bloody 'judge' 'transferred' too. I've nothing to lose. I'm happy to see I'm not the only lone crusader against corruption here. We should speak out about this. Our silence allows this to continue. But many won't. Usually the self satisfied pricks in their little gated communities are afraid of rocking their own boats.

  2. AD. I have followed this case from day one and I cannot come to terms with the tactics of the defense team. While Andy Hall seems to have the right intentions, he seemed to come over as a person with no legal experience in dealing with case. There was no attack on the main witnesses at the case. Why were the main witnesses not there. I have a gut feeling there is more to this case than is being let out. 1 Where is Sean Mcanna? He holds the key to this case. 2. Is Andy Hall doing under the table deals to save his own arse? 3. Why did the defense not insist on DNA experts being called to testify?
    There has been big funding for this team. FOR WHAT?
    I would like to see a proper International team take over and insist on all evidence being brought forward, including a warrant for Mcanna to appear. This isnt going to go away until justice is seen to be done

    1. While Andy Hall I understand has a legal degree he had not part in the actual defence apart from appearing as a witness as far as I know. No international team will be allowed in. McAnna is in Italy and v quiet. I am sure defence would have liked to have called him. The court has no powers to issaue a warrant. I do not think case funding has anything to do with verdict.

    2. It's ironic that someone with clearly less legal expertise than Andy Hall is crititcising him and Thailand's legal process and then suggests that Hall may be corrupt.

      Since when do "proper International teams" step in to foreign country's legal jurisdictions and take over? Would you like to see foreign judges sitting on the bench and perhaps bring in an international jury as another legally impossible innovation?

    3. What's a witness with questionable ethics and motives going to help? This case was based on DNA evidence which would have been tossed out first day of trial in any country with a modicum of respect for truth and justice. That's what foreigners need to rally about and the summary quoted above is all we need, repost it and send it to all the media outlets NOW in Thailand and your home country, please. Andrew, why not put a name to that summary- it's all over FB anyway.

  3. Andy Hall has been explaining rather defensively in twitter that the approach to the DNA evidence was taken by the pro-bono Thai lawyers as part of their wider legal strategy.

    They might have been better off appealing directly to the court on international public opinion...

  4. You must understand Andrew that Thailand has a long history of blaming and executing innocent people to protect the wealthy. There is of course the event that can never be mentioned in Thailand without risking a long period locked up but easily found on Wiki.

  5. In regards to the DNA analyses, the Thai word they use in the Court report is “ตำแหน่ง” or position. 16 positions were matched to the defendants, only 10 positions are needed to identify someone, etc. I believe ตำแหน่ง to mean STR loci positions, not alleles, as they were talking about the STR analyses conducted.

    Andy Hall’s evidence was dismissed because the two specialists (or expert witnesses) didn’t testify in court. If the expert witness can’t be cross examined, their reports can’t be admitted to evidence. (page 41 of the Court report)

  6. We have a guy who has possibly the key to solve these horrific murders busking his way around Europe and the defence cant chase him up. Really !!!. WTF are the donations being spent on apart from the obvious usual hotel bills and expenses.
    This stinks of the usual pattern of Thai justice.
    In my own assumption I reckon the man in question done a deal with the police to get away. number 1 witness gone. I think the 2 Burmese maybe were witness to what happened but cant talk or they will die along with their families. The defense are doing under table deals to get a secure sentence of maybe 15 -20 years which Andy Hall would regard a victory and escape all charges he faces.
    Maybe I am way out but a good start would be to see the expense sheet

  7. This case is the tipping point for foreigner acceptance of an astoundingly corrupted justice system. That account by the medical professional is as damning as it gets. I read on her FB page, from the evidence she saw, she doubts any semen samples from Ms. Witheridge ever existed and the entire DNA evidence is from a cigarette butt found some distance away from the scene. ( Which is why it got used up in a first round of testing.)

  8. One huge issue is that the vast majority of Thai people don't know or care about many issues that we are cognizant of.

    I have an educated Thai family in general, and to a person they had no idea that Thailand has had the second most dangerous roadways - and most dangerous if they went by WHO standards..

    Ignorance is not bliss..

  9. In answer to the 2 questions posed in the last sentence of Boob's final paragraph; yes to both.

    1. Indeed in the last century Britain in the days of the Raj insisted that it have its own court to try British citizens in Thailand and adjudicate against the various dacoits who attacked British x=citizens - 'A History of Anglo-Thai Relations'. I think they were pissed off then. Britain had a couple of bounders for consuls. Interesting times.

  10. Agreed AD. Britain did not only acquire the island of Hong Kong by the Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) in the early 1840's - they also acquired 5 "Treaty ports," including Shanghai.
    The principle of "extraterritoriality" applied in these treaty ports, which meant that only British appointed Courts with British appointed Judges could try British citizens.
    The Thais should be forced to accept this principle.

  11. Btw AD, don't you mean " try British citizens in India..." NOT Thailand?

  12. Truly astonishing and very, very disturbing for people like myself who have chosen to make their life homes in Thailand