BANGKOK — Junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha says Thai police will be rewarded for arresting two Burmese workers accused of murdering two British tourists in southern Thailand last month.
"I have checked whether the suspects are truly the perpetrators, and I have received confirmation from the police chief that they cannot be scapegoats because DNA tests have proved their guilt," Gen. Prayuth said.
He added, "We have to compliment the police for this, and we will reward police officers who were involved in the case."
The two migrant workers were arrested earlier this week and accused of murdering David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, on one of Koh Tao's beaches on 15 September.
National police chief Somyot Pumphanmuang said that both suspects, named Saw and Win, confessed to sexually assaulting Witheridge and murdering her and Miller on the beach before fleeing the scene.
Pol.Gen. Somyot also claimed that DNA tests and CCTV footage implicate the suspects in the murder.
Police came under immense pressure to solve the murder case, which has been extensively covered by international media, after Thai authorities voiced concern that the incident would damage the country's reputation as a popular travel destination. Thailand's tourism industry is still struggling to recoup losses from months of political unrest.
When a reporter asked PM Prayuth whether he believes tourism will bounce back following the suspects' arrest, Gen. Prayuth, looking visibly irritated, said the arrival of tourists depends on many factors, including seasons and the "situation in the world."
"I ask the media not to mess up the issue. Whenever there's an incident here, the media always ties it with the issues there," Gen. Prayuth told reporters. "Koh Tao isn't the only tourist destination."
Asked whether it is time to repeal martial over tourist areas in Thailand, the junta leader retorted that another "killing" would happen if martial law is revoked.
"Don't ask me about this. Are you dying because of martial law? I don't understand," Gen. Prayuth said angrily.
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