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Yesterday, on what was due to be the last hearing date in the Koh Tao murder case, the lawyers for the defense were granted more time to prepare their defense. The concession came about after chief defense lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat and his team asked for more time in which to show Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo were being made scapegoats in the high profile double murder case.
During the hearing yesterday Aung Suu from the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok told the court that witness Mao Mao had been forced to give testimony against the two defendants. He said “Mao Mao told me that he had been repeatedly kicked in the chest and that Thai officials demanded that he speak against the defendants or become a defendant himself”. He went on to tell the court that he had himself paid a visit to Koh Tao after the horrendous crimes to visit Myanmar migrant workers on the island – in his opinion “they all appeared frightened of the police”. In further testimony he revealed that the Myanmar government and the Myanmar Embassy would not officially recognize the type of interpreter used by the Thai police in this case as he was of Bengali ethnic origin while the two defendants are of Rakhine ethnicity – the two groups have had a history of conflict for around seventy years. As a member of the Office of the Royal Society here he said that there was a risk of discrepancy in the interpretation services because while the interpreter might use the official Burmese language, his choice of words could still have been influenced by his Bengali background.
The police have denied mistreating the defendants who continue to deny any involvement in the crime and insist they were forced into making a false confession they later retracted.
The family of Hannah Witheridge who have travelled from the UK to be present for the end of the trial were not in court on Friday. The mothers of the accused sat behind their sons to give their support. It is thought two further days will now be granted to the defense which could postpone the verdict that was due in October.