DNA tests in Leeds student murder probe

The murdered couple
The murdered couple
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Two men accused of killing a pair of British tourists in Thailand have been offered new DNA tests after retracting their confessions.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, died from head wounds and David Miller, 24, from Jersey and a student at the University of Leeds, is said to have died from drowning and a blow to the head while holidaying on the island of Koh Tao. Their bodies were found on September 15.

Burmese bar workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, originally confessed to the murders but reports in Thailand last week suggested they have now withdrawn their admissions.

At a weekly cabinet meeting reported by the Bangkok Post, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said today that police will allow the men to have another DNA test.

He said: “We will allow the suspects to fight the case, however they want.

“We have no problem conducting another DNA tests if (sceptics) think the released (DNA) results were not correct or not fair.”

The families of the two men accused of their killings have spoken publicly to say they do not believe they committed the crimes.

Campaigners claim Thai police often blame crimes on Burmese migrant workers and their investigations cannot be trusted.

Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission said it had found evidence that the two suspects were physically abused by the police.

It came after reconstructions of the killings were demonstrated in front of the cameras following their apparent confessions.

The suspects were charged with three offences - conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to rape, and robbery.

But later reports, denied by the Thai police, suggested a Burmese embassy official had formally retracted their confessions amid allegations that the pair were tortured.

Concerns have also been raised in the UK that the two men are innocent ‘’scapegoats”.

A petition signed by more than 100,000 people has been handed in to 10 Downing Street demanding a new, independent investigation into the deaths.

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