UK

Thailand tourist murders: Accused plead not guilty

Hannah Witheridge and David Miller Image copyright Family photos
Image caption Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found dead on a beach in Thailand

Two Burmese men have pleaded not guilty to charges that they killed two British tourists in Thailand.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, are accused of killing students Hannah Witheridge and David Miller.

The trial is scheduled to begin on 25 February and the pair could be executed if found guilty.

The Witheridge and Miller families previously said they feel "relief" that the case is coming to court and are "confident" about the investigation.

They also said they want the pair to have a "fair and transparent" trial.

The bodies of Miss Witheridge, 23, from Hemsby in Norfolk, and Mr Miller, 24, from Jersey, were found on a beach on the island of Koh Tao, a popular tourist destination, on 15 September.

Post-mortem examinations found Mr Miller died from drowning and a blow to the head, while Miss Witheridge died from head wounds. She had also been raped.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Zaw and Mr Win took part in a police re-enactment of the killings in October

The investigation into the murders has been marred by allegations of police incompetence and of confessions extracted by torture.

Mr Zaw and Mr Win, from Myanmar, also known as Burma, deny killing the two students. They had initially confessed to the murders but later retracted the confessions.

'Atrocious crimes'

In their statement, Mr Miller's family spoke of their "relief that progress is being made in Thailand and this case is finally coming to court".

But they said the "increasing sensationalism" of the story in the media was "emotionally hurtful" and that a fair trial was needed.

They said: "From what we have seen, 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."

The family of Miss Witheridge said: "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.

"Current news reporting is causing undue distress to our family."

The families said they were united in their shared grief, with Mr Miller's family also saying: "Please remember that this is above all a story of two wonderful young people, David and Hannah, killed in the prime of their lives in a senseless and brutal way."

Both families thanked the Metropolitan Police for carrying out an independent review into the Royal Thai Police investigation.

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