Myanmar man accused of British murders is ‘scapegoat’

The arrests of the two Mayanmar men followed intense scrutiny of Thai authorities which have been accused of mishandling the investigation.

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YANGON// The mother of one of the Myanmar men accused of murdering two British tourists in Thailand has said her son is a “scapegoat”.

Migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were charged with the murder of David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23.

The tourists’ battered bodies were found on the southern island of Koh Tao on September 15.

The arrests of the men, both in their early twenties, followed intense scrutiny of Thai authorities which have been accused of mishandling the investigation.

“The case has been fixed, my son is a scapegoat,” Zaw Lin’s mother Phyu Shwe Nu said, adding her son “has never done anything violent before”.

Britain has voiced concerns about the way Thai police had handled the case so far and offered police support to Thailand.

Myanmar president Thein Sein has also asked for a “fair” investigation, amid reports the accused were tortured into confessing.

The mother of the second suspect, Win Zaw Tun, said the news of her son’s arrest had left her suicidal.

Thailand has strongly rejected allegations of torture and defended its probe, with junta chief and premier Prayut Chan-ocha saying the case was “reliable”.

Earlier in the week Thai authorities agreed to accept British and Myanmar observers to monitor the case but details of what form this would take were not provided.

Thai police have said the two Myanmar suspects confessed to the crime and their DNA matched samples taken from Witheridge’s body.

The murders dealt another blow to Thailand’s tarnished image as a tourist haven after months of protests in Bangkok led to a coup in May and the introduction of martial law -- which has yet to be lifted.

* Agence France-Presse