police to join Thai investigation into tourist murders
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[October 18, 2014]
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand has
agreed to allow British police to join an investigation into the murder
of two backpackers on a Thai island, after local authorities came under
criticism for their handling of the case.
British police experts will travel to the holiday island of Koh
Tao to help investigate the murder of Britons Hannah Witheridge, 23,
and David Miller, 24, on a beach in September, according to a
statement from the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The agreement was reached after a Cameron raised the issue with Thai
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at an international summit in Milan
this week, the statement said.
It did not provide further details on how many officials would
travel to Thailand or what kind of assistance they would provide.
Details of the agreement were yet to be worked out, but would
involve "close coordination" between Thai authorities and the
British Embassy in Bangkok, said Col. Weerachon Sukondhapatipak, the
deputy spokesman of Thailand's Army, which seized power in a May
Thai authorities have been criticized for what has been seen as a
shambolic investigation into the murders, including a slew of false
leads and concerns over lapses in investigative procedure.
Police now allege that two workers from neighboring Myanmar, Zaw Lin
and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, committed the murders.
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Police have said they have obtained confessions as well as DNA
evidence from Witheridge that matches both men, although concerns
have been raised over the validity of the evidence.
The men have been charged with murder, rape and robbery.
(Reporting By Viparat Jantraprap and Aubrey Belford; additional
reporting by Costas Pitas in London; editing by Rosalind Russell)
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