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  1. National

Police to examine DNA and duress claims in Thai case

British detectives travelling to investigate the backpacker murders in Thailand are expected to focus on independent checks of DNA samples central to the case against two Burmese men accused of the crime and their claims to have been mistreated.

Diplomatic sources said Thailand's military ruler accepted the sending of a delegation to investigate the killing of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller when pressed on the issue by David Cameron during their summit meeting.

Obviously it is for the Thai authorities to lead and carry out that judicial process. But it is important that it is fair and transparent and that both of the families can be reassured that it is the murderers that have been brought to justice.

There are two areas we are particularly concerned about. One is the verification of the DNA samples of the suspects, making sure there is further independent verification. And the second is the investigation into allegations of mistreatment of the suspects. What the PM secured this morning was agreement from the Thai PM that we can send some British police investigators to Kho Tao to work with the Royal Thai Police on this.

– Diplomatic source
  1. National

UK police to travel to Thailand to probe tourist murders

UK police have been cleared to travel to Thailand to investigate the murders of British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller after the country's military ruler dropped his objections.

The agreement came in a face-to-face discussion between Prime Minister David Cameron and military ruler Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha at a summit - the Asia Europe Meeting - in Italy amid international concern about the way the case has been handled by the Thai authorities.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered on a beach on Koh Tao last month.

Miss Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, and 24-year-old Mr Miller, from Jersey, were brutally murdered on the holiday island of Koh Tao in September.

Thai authorities have charged two bar workers with the murders of the British backpackers amid allegations that the suspects made confessions under duress.

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Envoy meets Thai police over murders

David Miller and Hannah Witheridge

Britain's top envoy in Thailand has met police and Burmese officials amid concerns about the handling of the investigation into the murders of two British backpackers.

Court proceedings have reportedly started against two Burmese men accused of killing David Miller, 24, and 23-year-old Hannah Witheridge from Great Yarmouth on the island of Koh Tao.

According to the Bangkok Post three potential witnesses from Burma will now testify at the court.

Mark Kent, the British ambassador to Thailand, said on Twitter he had taken part in a meeting with Thai police and the Burmese ambassador and on the murders.

It comes after a Thai diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Office amid concerns about the police investigation.

Foreign Minister Hugo Swire told Thai charge d'affaires Nadhavathna Krishnamra there was "a real concern" in the UK over the way in which the deaths of Miss Witheridge and Mr Miller have been dealt with.

  1. National

Police deny Thailand murder suspects withdrew confessions

Thai Police have denied claims the two men suspected of murdering Brits Hannah Witheridge and David Miller have withdrawn their confessions, saying they have "concrete" evidence linking them to the deaths.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered on a beach on Koh Tao last month.

The men, who have been named in reports as bar workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, are accused of brutally killing Witheridge, 23, and Miller, 24, on the island of Koh Tao in September.

The two suspects, both 21, were charged with three offences - conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to rape and robbery - after local police said the men confessed to the killings.

But reports emerged on Thursday that Aung Myo Thant, a Burmese embassy official, had formally retracted their confessions amid allegations the pair were tortured.

A spokesman for the Royal Thai Police today strongly denied the accusations of torture as he insisted the confessions had not been withdrawn.

Men accused of killing Hannah Witheridge 'retract' their confessions

The two men (wearing helmets) were paraded by police last week. Credit: Reuters

The men accused of killing two British tourists in Thailand have reportedly retracted their confessions.

The bodies of Hannah Witheridge from Hemsby near Great Yarmouth and David Miller from Jersey were found on the island of Koh Tao last month.

Hannah Witheridge.

Two Burmese migrant workers charged with their murders have now apparently said they were forced to confess by Thai police.

Aung Myo Thant, a Burmese Embassy official, has been quoted in the Thai and Burmese press as saying that the men were pressured into admitting the killings.

"They said they didn't do it, that the Thai police beat them until they confessed to something they didn't do.

Their bodies had all sorts of bruises."

– Aung Myo Thant, lawyer

Miss Witheridge's funeral will be held in Hemsby tomorrow morning.

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