BANGKOK — Thai police claim that one of three detained Burmese migrant workers has confessed to murdering two British tourists on Koh Tao island several weeks ago.
According to Pol.Lt.Gen. Chaktip Chaijinda, deputy chief of Thai police, the Burmese worker told police he came across David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, while they were "having sex" on one of the island’s beaches.
The suspect then became "aroused" and decided to sexually assault Witheridge and murder her and Miller, Pol.Lt.Gen. Chaktip said.
It is not clear whether the two other Burmese men in police custody were involved in the murder.
The three men's DNA samples have been collected but the results are not yet available, Pol.Lt.Gen. Chaktip said. Police have collected hundreds of DNA samples from residents on the island in an effort to find a match with the DNA traces found on Witheridge's body.
The chief of the Thai police flew from Bangkok to Surat Thani province this evening and is expected to hold a formal police press conference on Koh Tao tomorrow.
In the past few weeks, Thai police have come under immense pressure to find the culprit(s) behind the grisly murder of Miller and Witheridge, who were found bludgeoned to death on a beach on 15 September.
The investigation has focused heavily on the island's Burmese migrant workers, many of whom live there illegaly.
Lacking legal protection, unregistered Burmese migrants in Thailand are frequently subject to abuse by employers, police, and traffickers. There is also widespread discrimination against Burmese people in Thailand. Several Thai police officers have suggested that Miller and Witheridge's murderer could not have been Thai.
According to a report published by Irrawaddy last week, police beat two Burmese migrant workers while interrogating them about the murder of Miller and Witheridge.
The investigation was also criticised internationally after Thai police made a number of contradicting and unsubstantiated remarks in the wake of the murder. For instance, a senior police officer previously said without providing any evidence that Mr. Miller was a "gay man" who was murdered by his "gay" friend out of "jealousy."
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