Diplomat summoned over Thai probe

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A Thai diplomat has been summoned to the Foreign Office to be told about the UK’s concerns over his country’s handling of the investigation into the murders of two British backpackers.

Foreign minister Hugo Swire told Thai charge d’affaires Nadhavathna Krishnamra there was “a real concern” in the UK over the way in which the deaths of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller have been dealt with.

Mr Swire said it was crucial for the Thai authorities to investigate the killings in a “fair and transparent way” and keep the victims’ families up to date with progress.

He also voiced concern about the way Thai police had engaged with the media. Two Burmese workers who have been charged with the killings were paraded in front of the cameras after apparently making confessions, which were reportedly later withdrawn.

The men, named in reports as bar workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, are accused of the brutal murders of Miss Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, and 24-year-old Mr Miller, from Jersey, on the holiday island of Koh Tao in September.

The two suspects, both 21, were charged with three offences – conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to rape and robbery. But later reports – denied by the Thai police – suggested that a Burmese embassy official had formally retracted their confessions amid allegations the pair were tortured.

Following Mr Krishnamra’s meeting with Mr Swire today, the Foreign Office said in a statement: ” Mr Swire stressed that there was a real concern in the UK about how the investigation has been handled by the Thai authorities. He said that it was crucial for the investigation to be conducted in a fair and transparent way.

“Mr Swire emphasised how important it was that the UK and Hannah and David’s families received regular updates on the investigation’s progress. He also noted his concern about the way that the police had engaged with the media on the case and reiterated that the UK police stood ready to assist with the investigation and subsequent legal process.”

Earlier this month, Mr Swire spoke to Thailand’s deputy prime minister Tanasak Patimapragorn about the case.

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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