Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA evid

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Alex
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Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by Alex »

Gaybutton wrote:By the way, you might be happy to know if Thailand had a jury system and I found myself on their jury, at this point, with the information made publicly available, I would vote not guilty - not because I believe they are innocent, but because so far I haven't seen enough that proves to me, beyond reasonable doubt, that they are guilty.
I think that makes perfect sense. Just because they belong to a group that is often victimized in the Thai legal system doesn't necessarily mean that they are innocent of the crimes they have been accused of. However, with the prosecution's case as flimsy as it is and with shoddy police work from Day One, they clearly deserve the benefit of the doubt.

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Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by Up2u »

Thai beach killings: Expert questions DNA evidence
11 September 2015

DNA from a garden hoe allegedly used to kill two British tourists on a Thai island does not match samples taken from two men accused of the killings, a court in the country has heard.

Forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand also criticised a failure to analyse blood found at the scene.

David Miller, 24, from Jersey, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, were found dead on a beach on Koh Tao last September.

Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo deny the killings.

Police say DNA on the victims' bodies matches that of the accused.

But officers have already testified that they failed to take DNA samples from the alleged murder weapon, examining fingerprints instead.

Dr Rojanasunand, who heads a forensic unit run by the Ministry of Justice, said she had subsequently extracted two samples of DNA from the alleged weapon.

Both were from males, but neither matched the defendants, she told the court. Anyone holding the hoe for more than 15 seconds would have left DNA, she added.... (read more).... http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34217544

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ilz
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Koh Tao murders

Post by ilz »

The burmese have been declared guilty and sentenced to death this morning.

Shame !

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35173688

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Gaybutton
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Re: Koh Tao murders

Post by Gaybutton »

ilz wrote:The burmese have been declared guilty and sentenced to death this morning.
I have mixed feelings about it. I had been skeptical of their guilt, but of course I was not present at any of the court proceedings to hear the evidence. However, the families of the victims were there and according to the articles they are convinced of their guilt. I don't think the victims' families would want to see the wrong people convicted and sentenced.

Whatever your own opinions are, gents, here are the articles:
____________________________________________________

Court sentences Myanmar pair to death for Koh Tao murders

24 Dec 2015

KOH SAMUI – Two Myanmar men were sentenced to death on Thursday for murdering two British backpackers on Koh Tao last year in an internationally watched case that raised questions about the the kingdom’s justice system and tourist safety.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were found guilty of killing David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, whose bodies were found on the resort island's Sai Ree beach on Sept 15 last year.

The two migrants were arrested about two weeks after the murders. Police said the pair confessed to the killings and that DNA samples linked them to the crimes. Both men later retracted their confessions, saying they had been coerced by the police and prosecutors shone an international spotlight on supposed holes in the evidence.

The court, however, put aside minor details, focusing principally on personal accounts and physical evidence.

"Both defendants are guilty of murder for which the penalty is the death sentence," an unnamed judge told the court, adding they were also "found guilty of rape and conspiracy to hide the crime." The pair also were sentenced to two additional years for theft and illegal entry into the country.

Both men are expected to appeal within the next month.

In its ruling, the court said that prosecutors had presented evidence from the crime scene and provided witness testimony that proved "without any doubt to the court" that the two men had killed Miller and raped Witheridge before murdering her "to cover up their wrongdoings". DNA evidence showed that the semen of both men was found inside Witheridge, the court said.

The judge said there was no weight to the two men's claims that they had been tortured during interrogation by police.

The migrant workers, who were shackled in court, were grim-faced as the sentence was delivered. As their fates were being read out, the defendants mothers sobbed and consoled each other. Win Zaw Htun's mother cried loudly and then fainted as wardens took her son away.

Miller's family told the German Press Agency the "evidence is absolutely overwhelming" against Myanmar defendants.

"We believe that the result today represents justice for David and Hannah," said Miller's brother Michael, on behalf of the family.

Miller's parents were also at the court for the ruling but Witheridge's relatives did not make the journey.

"The past year has served as an unimaginably impossible time for our family. We have found the trial process extremely difficult and our trips out to Thailand, to attend court, made for particularly distressing experiences," the Witherridge family said in a statement released Thursday. "We found listening to proceedings very challenging and we have had to endure a lot of painful and confusing information. We now need time, as a family, to digest the outcome of the trial and figure out the most appropriate way to tell our story."

A troubled investigation

From the start, the case raised questions about competence of Thai police investigators. Investigators faced a variety of criticism, starting with their failure to secure the crime scene and then for releasing several names and pictures of suspects who turned out to be innocent.

After Britain's Foreign Office expressed concern to Thai authorities about the way the investigation was conducted, British police were allowed to observe the case assembled by their Thai counterparts.

After recanting the confessions allegedly given after being tortured, the defendants pleaded innocent. Human rights groups repeatedly called for an independent investigation and raised concerns that the men might be scapegoats.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch called for the ruling to be reviewed in a "transparent and fair appeal process".

"In a trial where torture allegations by the two accused were left uninvestigated and DNA evidence was called into question by Thailand's most prominent forensic pathologist, both the ruling and these death sentences are profoundly disturbing," said Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division.

Andy Hall of the Migrant Worker Rights Network and an adviser to the defence team, said the pair "respected" the court decision but would appeal.

"The defence position is that prosecution didn't prove beyond doubt the main charges," he said after the judgment was read.

Tarnished reputation

The killings tarnished the image of not only Thailand's justice system, but also its tourism industry, which was already struggling to recover after the May 2014 coup and imposition of martial law.

Miller and Witheridge's battered bodies were found partially clothed on a secluded section of beach popular with backpackers and scuba divers. Autopsies showed that the two, who had met on the island while staying at the same hotel, both suffered severe head wounds and that Witheridge had been raped.

"He should not have died that night... what happened to Hannah Witheridge is unspeakable. David always stood up for justice and justice is what has been delivered today," Mr Miller said after the court session in a statement released by the family.

Under intense pressure to solve the case, police carried out DNA tests on more than 200 people on Koh Tao.

Once the arrests were made, the body blows to the police and courts kept on coming.

Win Zaw Htun testified that he was tortured, beaten and threatened so he would confess. He told the court that police handcuffed him naked, took pictures of him, "kicked him in the back, punched him, slapped him, threatened to tie him to a rock and drop him in the sea," according to defence lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat.

Zaw Lin, the other defendant, testified that he was blindfolded, beaten on his chest and told he would be killed if he didn't admit to the charges, Nakhon said, adding, "He also said he was constantly suffocated by a plastic bag that was put over his head until he passed out."

The case hinged on DNA evidence that police and prosecutors said linked the suspects to the crime but the defence says was flawed.

The defence said that the DNA found on a garden hoe police say was the murder weapon did not belong to the defendants. An expert witness testified that the hoe contained DNA from two males, but not the suspects.

"The prosecution case is marked by an absence of significant evidence needed to prove the guilt of the accused for crimes they are charged with," the defence team said in a statement released earlier this week.

On Thursday, Miller's family hit back at the accusations of sloppy fieldwork.

"The forensic work performed was not the so-called shambles it was made out to be," Michael Miller said, endorsing the Thai police probe and noting the lack of "remorse" shown by the accused.

While the two were sentenced to death, years of appeals likely await before any sentence is carried out.

Thailand hands out a significant number of death penalty sentences -- 55 in 2014, 50 in 2013 and 106 in 2012 -- but no one has been executed in the country since 2009.

According to the Corrections Department there are 456 prisoners on death row.

Story and photos: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/crime/8 ... ao-murders
__________________________________________________________________________

Brother of victim says justice has been served

December 24, 2015

KOH SAMUI, Thailand - A Thai court sentenced two Myanmar migrant workers to death on Thursday after convicting them of the 2014 murders of two young British tourists on a holiday island.

The battered bodies of backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found on a beach on the island of Koh Tao in September 2014. Police said Witheridge, 23, had been raped and bludgeoned to death. Miller, 24, also suffered blows to his head.

Following weeks of pressure to solve the case, police arrested Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun.

The verdict and sentence follow an investigation and trial that triggered allegations of police incompetence, mishandling of evidence and DNA tests and torture of the suspects.

The verdicts came after 21 days of witness hearings in a trial that began in July and ended in October.

The court said the DNA tests by investigators were carried out to acceptable standards and the DNA found on Witheridge matched that of the defendants.

The judge said there was no weight to the two men’s claims that they had been tortured.

Miller’s family flew to Thailand for the verdict. His brother, Michael, delivered a statement to reporters outside the court and said justice had been delivered, adding that the two men had shown no remorse for what they had done.

"We believe what happened today represents justice for Hannah and David," said Miller. "The Royal Thai Police conducted a thorough and methodical investigation ... evidence against the two was overwhelming."

Witheridge’s family said the trial had been distressing.

"We found listening to proceedings very challenging and we have had to endure a lot of painful and confusing information," the family said in a statement.

"We now need time, as a family, to digest the outcome of the trial and figure out the most appropriate way to tell our story."

The mother of one of the defendants broke down in tears as the judge passed sentence in the court on Samui island, close to Koh Tao.

Defence lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat told reporters that the defendants would file an appeal within a month.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/nationa ... 75595.html

Doug
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Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by Doug »

This is a very black mark on the image of Thailand.
I agree with the assessment of Gaybutton and Alex. The case should be declared "No verdict and the lads should be released, deported and blacklisted.
For me this is the final nail in the coffin. Since 1989 I have been holidaying and/or living in Thailand. Not anymore.
I have already booked my next adventure to Equador in March.

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Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by Gaybutton »

Doug wrote:For me this is the final nail in the coffin.
Just out of curiosity, what were the other nails?

Oliver

Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by Oliver »

I was distinctly unimpressed with the interview provided by a young family-member of one of the victims. Unless he is a fluent Thai-speaker- which I doubt- his confidence in the strength of the prosecution seems ill-judged when the lives of two young guys are hanging in the balance. And I wonder if he even heard the case for the defence.

I understand Doug's position; the last few years have been particularly distressing. Were it not for my Tee-rak I'd stay away.

naughty but nice

Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by naughty but nice »

Doug wrote:The case should be declared "No verdict and the lads should be released, deported and blacklisted.
Why?

A DNA expert testified that the DNA evidence in the murder weapon did not come from the two accused and this in the only evidence that was held up as to be 'convincing'.

I was talking to a senior police officer here in Pattaya today and he agrees that the real murderer is the son of the chief of the village where the murders occurred who left for an extended holiday in Singapore where he is still living.

Money talks or in this case bought silence.

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Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by Gaybutton »

Oliver wrote:Unless he is a fluent Thai-speaker- which I doubt
I'm sure he is not. My guess is the family had someone translating for them. Otherwise, what would be the point of attending the trial if there was no way to understand what was being said?

The case is going to be appealed. It will be interesting to see what will happen. Again only a guess on my part, but I have a feeling the best these boys can hope for is their death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment or a very long-term sentence. I will be surprised if their conviction is completely overturned and they end up released.

In Thailand, the prosecution can appeal a not guilty verdict in a criminal trial. I don't know if the prosecution can also appeal an appeals court verdict.

I emphasize that not having been there I'm not going to try to second guess the guilty verdict. I make no assumptions. If they really didn't do it, I hope they will be released. They've certainly been in jail a long time and you can imagine how they've probably been treated. From what I understand, in Thai criminal cases there is much more burden on the defense to prove innocence than the prosecution having to prove guilt.

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Re: Thai beach killings: Even DNA THAI Expert questions DNA

Post by Alex »

I agree, it's very unlikely that the conviction will be overturned. Their only hope was the intense scrutiny and ongoing international reporting their trial attracted. That - combined with the case the defense made - wasn't enough to secure their release, and it won't be possible to keep up a similar level of pressure on the Appeals Court - the whole appeals process will be conducted in writing, there will be no further public trial.

Also, now that the initial verdict has been reported worldwide, whatever the fallout for Thailand might be: the damage has been done. Once the Appeals Court's verdict will be read, interest will have died down significantly. There will be new cases, new things to report.

I don't see any benefit in commenting on the bereaved families' statements. People deal with loss in much different ways, and whatever they feel they wanted to say, it's an aspect of the case that also deserved reporting.

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