KOH TAO MURDERS – DID SCOTLAND YARD AND THE FOREIGN OFFICE SCREW UP?
So now we now have evidence that DNA taken from the hoe – the principal weapon in the brutal slayings of Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on the Thai island of Koh Tao does not match the DNA of the two young Burmese men on trial for their murder.
That means that we also know that there is DNA from the hoe of two men taken by Dr. Porntip Rojanasunand, Director-General of the Central Institute of Forensic Science.
And those men have not even been looked for.
That DNA should by all rights be either that of the real murderers or someone who has messed up the crime scene, which, Dr. Porntip said, was what happened.
The Thai police evidence was that it was impossible to get DNA from the hoe, something which would have set the eyes of DNA experts worldwide rolling.
And now they have been told there is DNA its unlikely they are going to challenge their own watertight case, or expose their own scenes of crime incompetence.
The Thai Justice system is on trial and its a no win situation. Here’s the problem.
Worldwide consensus is that the two young Burmese are scapegoats. The consensus in Thailand is pretty much the same.
The two Burmese confessed under torture. And this is verified by an independent investigation by the Thai National Human Rights Commission.
Thai Police investigators are solely relying on their claim that the DNA in the the sperm found on Hanna Witheridge is that of the two Burmese defendants but they have not produced any independent corroborative evidence linking them to the murder.
Nobody seriously would trust the Thai Police with DNA testing in a murder they want to solve quickly – not least because they have a history of messing around with DNA results – such as in the unsolved murder of Kirsty Jones.
But for even those who believed the Thai police evidence before the trial they might easily have been dissuaded if they listened to the the cross examination which revealed:
* Thai police had no proper and adequate chain of custody documents for the court; no photos of any of the DNA analysis processes, no case notes, no written description of testing processes. Originally they just had charts of DNA profiles.
*No DNA information was presented at all on the cigarette butts, just a piece of paper saying they matched.
*The defence further highlighted the fact that the DNA sperm data was written, crossed out, and revised and dates and times were clearly wrong.
In fact the whole collection process raised doubts maintains Andy Hall of Migrant Workers Rights.
Now this is all a bit inconvenient. For two young Burmese to go down for this murder would be convenient for all sides except the Burmese. The Thais because they save face. Scotland Yard because they have backed the Thai investigation – and General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha who also backed Thai police.
But on the basis of evidence presented by the prosecution the case would have been thrown out in the UK and most western countries.
But this is Thailand and you can cast aside the norms of proof and legal procedure, And, as verbatim note taking has been forbidden, the world has missed how Thai police reacted when asked to provide items they never had.
So far this case has been presented from a western point of view. Even the Bangkok Post is using a mish mash of agency copy.
In the London Central Criminal Court the judge would have no doubt brought the officers in the case before him and had more than a few things to say.
For a start he might have said: ‘Now go and find the killers’.
But in Thailand this would never happen.
So these two young men could still go to their deaths or prison for life – and if that happens could it be the fault of Scotland Yard, the National Crime Agency, Norfolk Police and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office?
Certainly some people think so.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Scotland Yard Scenes of Crime officers and Norfolk Police were misled when they arrived in Thailand where they would have been royally treated by their Thai colleague in law enforcement.
I myself have enjoyed the fringe benefit of some of this hospitality but I am sure in the light of political correctness it is much modified nowadays.
Now lets look again at the statements issued by the families after British police returned home.
“We would like to thank the officers who travelled to Thailand to review the case and the Royal Thai Police for facilitating their visit.
“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.”
“We would like to express our relief that progress is being made in Thailand and this case is finally coming to court.
“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.”
And while the family stated: “support for the Myanmar suspects has been strong and vocal” they urged the public not to “jump to conclusions” and said 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.”
Those statements were issued through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In fact it is fair to assume that both sets of parents were, if not directed, were guided in what to put out to the media by both the FCO and Scotland Yard.
|Ambassador Mark Kent with General Somyuot, head of the Thai police discusses ‘water tight case’ which was
congratulated’ by Scotland Yard whose officers ‘read the same books’.
The FCO and Scotland Yard may well dispute this. But those statements are from two families who believe that the two young Burmese are guilty. There can be little doubt about it.
For a Foreign Office, which invariably falls back on the standard: ‘We cannot interfere with the justice system of a foreign country’ to unfortunate Britons facing Thai justice, issuing these statements is a little bit rich.
Would these statements have been made had the alleged killers been British?
There can have been little more prejudicial to the case of the young Burmese than a statement against them by the victims’ families.
Unfortunately Scotland Yard and the National Crime Agency need the Thai police.. desperately so even.
Thailand has now become a favourite bolt hole for British criminals. Only Thai police can pick them up. Britain has to join the queue as American, Australian, European and other police forces also try and get Thai police to pick up their rogues.
As often as not the foreign rogues have more money at their disposal that some of the police forces.
Historically, (and I can personally vouch for this) there has been a tradition of being soft on Thai police and never ever being critical. The British media is regarded as a nuisance.
All victim families are warned off. The Thais are given credits for all the arrests and there have been multiple ‘demonstration of the success of international police co-operation’ – (even where defendants have successfully later bribed themselves out).
Sue Jones the mother of Kirsty Jones, the 23-year-old graduate who was raped and murdered in Chiang Mai I am sure can provide many instances of being told ‘Don’t upset the Thai police, It is counter-productive”.
She did not upset the police by making comments on that investigation and by doing so she was keeping a lot bottled up.
She still did not get a result and the investigation was handed to the DSI and many remain convinced to this day that it is because a true result would not be good for Thailand.
So what of Scotland Yard’s report? Well it is being kept confidential. Officers from Scotland Yard and Norfolk Police were in Thailand at the request of British Prime Minister David Cameron for over a month. They were even filmed on the murder scene, but even though they had clip boards they were only observing, they say.
The defence has repeatedly asked and even gone to court to get the Scotland Yard report but failed.
The reason given is that it would not help the defence. A more realistic one might be that while it may not help the defence it would not help Scotland Yard either.
There are disclosure issues here also. Would Scotland Yard have been able to refuse had they had the request to provide the report to a British court?
The roles of the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) and the Foreign Office certainly deserves better scrutiny.
It has also been claimed that Scotland Yard and the National Crime Agency were using an interpreter supplied by the Thai police. I do not believe that one. That would just be too stupid.
The NCA , formerly SOCA, formerly British Customs, police liaison office in Bangkok, have always had a fluent English speaking Thai on board.
But could Scotland Yard have been fooled? Certainly. And while Scotland Yard has probably one of the best reputations in the world – helped along by Hollywood and crimes series’ – its reputation at home is not quite so high.
‘The long arm of the law’ is repeatedly hyped, but some may suspect that its failures might exceed its successes.
Dr. Porntip has of course had many rows with the Thai police, as you would expect. She was also discredited over the GT200 scam – recommending worthless, or rather fraudulent, bomb detecting machines to the Thai police and army.
Nevertheless her finding of DNA on the hoe of two men who are not the defendants was a bombshell.
Once again – If the DNA of the hoe is not one of the members of the investigation team – then its of the killers – and the killers are not the two Burmese.
Sue Jones, mother of Kirsty Jones murdered in Chiang Mai, commenting on the latest development on Facebook said:
“This is awful for the families. All they will want is justice and answers. I doubt if they will get either,not honestly anyway.
Having dealt with the Thais for 15 years nothing surprises me anymore.
My thoughts are with them.”
The photo-shopped picture below is not reflective of anything in the story – rather a hark back to the times when murders had to be solved without DNA.
|Picture – The Weapon|