On the same day it warned its citizens of violent crime on Thailand’s islands, the British government Monday summoned Thailand’s top diplomatic representative in London to lay out its “real concern” about the investigation into the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao, officials said.
Britain’s decision to formally air its concerns contradicts assertions by Thai authorities that British and Burmese officials are satisfied with the Thai investigation, and in fact junta chief and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha this afternoon reportedly denied the British government’s statement.
Prayuth “denied the report that the British government summoned the Thai charge d’affaires in London to inquire about the Ko Tao case,” according to state-owned MCOT News.
British officials meanwhile said they did in fact speak to the Thai representative about the investigation which led to the arrest of two migrant workers from Myanmar. Those two men now stand accused of murdering David Miller, 24; and raping and murdering Hannah Witheridge, 23; after the tourists’ battered bodies were found on Sept. 15. They’ve since reportedly recanted early confessions, telling an embassy lawyer they were forced under torture; Thai police said they have not.
Junior foreign minister Hugo Swire summoned Thai charge d’affaires Nadhavathna Krishnamra and “stressed that there was a real concern in the UK about how the investigation has been handled by the Thai authorities,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Swire “said that it was crucial for the investigation to be conducted in a fair and transparent way,” it said. He also noted “his concern about the way that the police had engaged with the media on the case, and reiterated that the UK police stood ready to assist with the investigation and subsequent legal process,” it said.
Swire emphasised the need for the British government and the victims’ families to receive regular updates on the investigation’s progress.
Thai police said Friday the two suspects had confessed to the crime, and their DNA matched samples taken from Witheridge’s body.
The breakthrough followed intense scrutiny of Thai authorities, which had been accused – in criticism at home and abroad – of bungling the investigation in the days after the crime.
Story: AFP, Coconuts Bangkok / Photo: File photo British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Wikimedia Commons
UPDATE: Story has been updated to reflect reported claim by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha the meeting announced by British officials did not happen.