Thai police case against the alleged killers of two British backpackers in Thailand was dealt another devastating blow today after their key witness said he had no knowledge of the murder – even though he too was beaten by Thai police.
|Ko Maung Maung, seated in blue, with Embassy officials and Thai Police – DVB|
And Ko Maung Maung, 21, the supposed main prosecution witness being held under police protection to testify against his two Burmese friends, who are alleged to have killed Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, told Burmese Embassy officials today that he did not believe his friends were the killers.
In front of Thai Police and Embassy officials Ko Maung Maung, also known as Ko Than Shwe, said he had been out drinking with his two friends Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin on Sairee Beach on the night of the murders.
In a statement broadcast on DVB News (Democratic Voice of Burma) lawyer Aung Myo Htan said: “He said he had his friend had bought three beers and one packet of cigarettes and then went home about 1 am.”
His friends decided to continue drinking, and when he woke up in the morning his two friends had returned. Everything seemed normal. They had no cuts or bruises. “I did not think my friends could have done that,” he said, referring to the brutal killings of Hannah, 23, from Great Yarmouth, and David, 24, from Jersey. The interview was witnessed by Second Secretary at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok.
Ko Maung Maung also said he too was hit and threatened by a Rohingya roti-seller who acted as interpreter for the Royal Thai Police. Currently there is a major political conflict between Rohingyas in Arakan State, Burma, and ordinary Burmese.
Ko Maung Maung’s statement throws another spanner in the works of the Thai policed investigation which has been ridiculed worldwide.
Bangkok Police Chief Somyot Pumpunmuang told his investigating officers yesterday that had done ‘a perfect job’ in investigating the murders.
More allegations of beatings which already have been made by Burmese migrant labourers on Koh Tao and the two young accused men Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, make the confessions to Thai police less and less credible. The two young Burmese men have already retracted their confessions – and Amnesty International has belatedly joined the protest.
British Ambassador Mark Kent has declined to comment on the investigation. It seems likely that defence lawyers will seek help from British police to secure a new test of the DNA of the killers.