Archive for Thailand
A Thai diplomat has been summoned to the Foreign Office over concerns about the country’s investigation into the murders of two British backpackers. Foreign minister Hugo Swire took the step amid fears over Thai authorities’ handling of the deaths of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24. Mr Swire told Thai charge d’affaires Nadhavathna Krishnamra of his “real concern” after two Burmese workers were charged with the killings and paraded in front of cameras having apparently made confessions – before reportedly later withdrawing them. The men, named in reports as bar workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, are accused of the brutal murders of Miss Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, and Mr Miller, from Jersey, on the paradise 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. Earlier this month, Mr Swire spoke to Thailand’s deputy prime minister Tanasak Patimapragorn about the case.
The government has insisted both the British and Myanmar embassies in Thailand “have no problems” with the Thai police’s handling of the Sept 15 murders of two British tourists on Koh Tao even as police face claims the Myanmar suspects were tortured. Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn said he was confident the case would not lead to any disputes between Thailand and Myanmar because he had spoken with the embassy and it did not have any problems with the investigation results. His remarks came after the police held a press conference Tuesday to insist on the accuracy of the investigation which had resulted in charges against two Myanmar men. Police and diplomatic sources said that the British ambassador or a senior embassy official would attend the press conference. Instead, the embassy was not represented. The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on a beach of the southern island of Koh Tao in Surat Thani province on Sept 15. Police pursued the case for more than two weeks before they detained three Myanmar migrant workers, two of whom were charged over the murders while the other was treated as an eyewitness. National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang defended the arrest of the two Myanmar men for the murders even though the suspects claimed they were tortured by police while in custody. Contradicting earlier reports that Myanmar embassy officials were satisfied with explanations provided by Thai authorities over the arrest of their nationals, Htun Aye, the embassy’ s second secretary, told the Bangkok Post Tuesday it was too early to say whether his team was satisfied with all the information they were given by authorities.
The embassy pledged to assist Myanmar workers who faced murder charges. Three Myanmar workers based on Koh Tao off the Surat Thani coast have accused police of torturing them to try to extract information about the murder of two British citizens last month. The three men were from a group of six Myanmar workers. The three were released by police but two colleagues were arrested and eventually charged with the murders, while the sixth man is believed to have agreed to give evidence against the two who have been charged. The three men who were released have alleged that Thai police poured hot water on them. They later met with a Myanmar labour leader who took photos of burn wounds on their bodies and sent them to the Myanmar embassy. The embassy reportedly said later that it was ready to assist their colleagues who have been charged.
The British Embassy in Bangkok issued a statement on behalf of the UK warning citizens to exercise caution while travelling in Thailand after two British tourists were murdered on Tao island in Surat Thani. Western tourists have also been victims of vicious, unprovoked attacks by gangs on Koh Phangan. These attacks are particularly common around the time of the Full Moon parties and at late night bars at Haad Rin bay on Koh Phangan.
The UK embassy are urgently seeking information from the local authorities after two young British tourists were found dead on a bloodstained beach with what were described as “gruesome” head injuries. Consular staff stand ready to provide assistance at this tragic time. “The consul from Bangkok is travelling to Koh Tao as soon as possible,” they added. Police in Thailand have launched a murder inquiry. The bodies were discovered, partly naked, close to the location of where a beach party had been held the night before. Thai police named the two, David William Miller, 24, from Jersey, and Hannah Victoria Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, aged 23. The young woman’s throat had reportedly been cut while the man had suffered a cutting wound on the back of his head. Some of the pair’s clothes were located nearby, as was a hoe, which police believe was used in the murder. For some time after the killings, people on the island, located in Surat Thani province and which is home around 2,000 residents, had blockaded its piers to help prevent anyone escaping. The blockade was lifted after a few hours, raising the prospect that whoever carried out the attack could have fled.
The government hit back at criticism of its embassies in China, Malaysia and Thailand, insisting that they are helping migrants in need. In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to so-called allegations made in Post articles and by rights group Adhoc that embassies had failed to protect migrants. In the statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong wrote that between January and September 2014, the embassy repatriated 28 women who were trafficked to China for marriage. The embassy in Thailand, he said, found jobs for 11 workers after they were abandoned by private companies, and helped two others return home. In Malaysia, he added, two domestic workers had been repatriated since August. Chhan Sokunthea, of rights group Adhoc said there is a problem with “slow coordination” between the ministry and the embassies, but noted that this has recently shown improvement.
Foreign ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said Thailand hoped to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia after the Arab country recalled its head of mission last month over a controversial court verdict. Abdulelah al-Sheaiby, the Saudi Arabian embassy’s charge d’affaires, was recalled on July 18, four months after Thailand’s Criminal Court found five Thai police officers not guilty of abducting and murdering a Saudi businessman who went missing in Bangkok in 1990. Sek insisted that Thailand still hoped to normalise ties with Saudi Arabia by removing obstacles in bilateral relations. He said Thailand was serious about bringing justice to the case and public prosecutors had already filed an appeal against the ruling. The verdict on March 31 was the latest development in the case of Mohammad al-Ruwaili, a Saudi businessman abducted and murdered in Bangkok in 1990. In 1993, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Thailand and restricted travel between the two countries following a series of scandals, starting with the massive theft of jewels from a Saudi Arabian royal palace by a Thai gardener and a spate of murders and abductions later.