11 Dec ‘Lack of transparency’ dogs Koh Tao murder suspects’ case

Written by Mizzima Published in Regional Read 2279 times
Senior Thai lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat (C), Mr Andy Hall (R), and Daw Aye Mar Cho, of the Human Rights Defenders Fund, outside Samui prison, southern Thailand, November 27, 2014. Photo: Andy Hall/ Twitter Senior Thai lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat (C), Mr Andy Hall (R), and Daw Aye Mar Cho, of the Human Rights Defenders Fund, outside Samui prison, southern Thailand, November 27, 2014. Photo: Andy Hall/ Twitter

After the Koh Tao murder suspects send a letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi calling for help, fears have been voiced that a lack of transparency and cooperation with the defence team and a release of statements could be seen as prejudicial to a fair trial for the accused.

Speaking to migrant worker rights activist Mr Andy Hall, Nakhon Chompuchat, lead lawyer for the two suspects, said a preliminary court hearing abruptly brought forward from February 25, 2015 to December 26 has the most serious and concerning implications for his preparation of the defence case against the charges laid against the defendants Ko Zaw Lin Oo and Ko Wai Phyo (aka Ko Win Zaw Htun), both 21.

Mr Nakhon said the court is now demanding ten sets of documents and evidence from both the defence and prosecution to be submitted at same time by December 18, just a week away.

So far the prosecution has made no disclosure of their witness statements while the defence has been asked to produce a full witness list, according to Mr Nakhon, as reported by Mr Hall in a Facebook post.

The prosecution has only provided “a six-page bland document” for the defense team to go on giving the defense team no time to prepare challenges to prosecution witnesses.

Mr Hall told Mizzima that “this lack of transparency and cooperation with defence team to ensure a fair trial, and the release of statements could be seen as prejudicial to a fair trial for the accused.”

The disadvantage appears to have been compounded by the release through Britain’s Foreign Office of statements by the families of the victims, Mr Hannah Witheridge and Mr David Miller, expressing confidence in the Thai police investigation. The message conveyed is that the media, which were suspicious of the Thai police investigation, were wrong and Britain’s Scotland Yard was right.

Mr Hall told Mizzima that it is hard to prepare without knowing the case against the suspects.

He said this was not a usual case.

“If the evidence is solid against the accused, as they stated, why not release the evidence now? Surely there is no threat to the safety of witnesses or the case if the evidence is so strong. We are not talking about international terrorists here,” Mr Hall said.

The two accused men sent a letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on December 9, the contents just released, that calls on the Myanmar opposition leader for help.

In the letter, they wrote:

“The truth is we are not really involved in this case. We want you to help us. So we write this letter to you from our imprisonment. We were not involved in this crime. We do not want to be in jail anymore. We think the killer went to another country already. We think it is injustice that we are in the jail. We want justice and equality.”

Last modified on Thursday, 11 December 2014 13:20