Trial Begins Into Thailand Murders

The trial of two Burmese migrant workers charged with the murdering a woman from Hemsby on a beach in Thailand has begun.

Hannah Witheridge

23-year-old Hannah Witheridge, and her friend David Miller, 24, from Jersey, were killed on the island of Koh Tao last September.

Their families have travelled to the nearby island of Koh Samui where Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, also known as Win Zaw Htun, stand charged with murder and rape.

Verdicts in the case are not expected until October.

The first policeman who was called to the scene of the killings last year, and a doctor who examined the bodies of the two Britons, were the first witnesses called as the trial opened.

The investigation into the deaths has been marred by confusion and allegations of police incompetence.

The defendants are said to have confessed under pressure from local police shortly after the killings but have since retracted those statements.

As he walked into the courtroom defence lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat said he hoped the trial would be a just one.

"We hope the truth will be revealed,'' he said. "We hope the mechanism of justice in Thailand ... will have the same standards of international countries.''

In statements issued today before the trial began members of both victims' families spoke of the pain the deaths had caused.

Ms Witheridge's family said they were "united in grief'' with Mr Miller's loved ones.

They said: "Hannah was a beautiful person, inside and out, she brought a room alive just being there.

"She was fun, honest and loved life.

"Her bright future was brutally ended leaving those who loved her broken with no answers.

"Speculation, rumour and theory have been incredibly hurtful to our family and Hannah's friends, making an already unthinkable time harder to bear.

"We of course want to see those responsible for the brutal murder of our precious girl brought to justice.''

Mr Miller's family said: "The act which ended David's life devastated our family and his friends.

"Just hours before he died David was talking to us with his usual enthusiasm, describing the beauty of Koh Tao and the friendliness of the Thai people.

"Over the coming weeks we hope to gain a better understanding as to how such a wonderful young man lost his life in such idyllic surroundings in such a horrible way.

"This pain will remain a part of us for the rest of our lives. We have borne our thoughts in silence as we have not wanted to influence any court proceedings, but simply want to see justice done fairly and openly.''

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