Sister of murdered backpacker slams Thai police

The Thai police have a poor reputation domestically and internationally. Source: Wikipedia

The sister of murdered backpacker Hannah Witheridge has described Thailand as a “dangerous trap”, claiming her sister’s rapist and killer is free while criticising the Thai authorities for mistreating her family.

In a Facebook post, Laura Witheridge said “the vast majority of the Thai police are corrupt” and the investigation that led to the death sentence last month for two Burmese migrant workers was “bungled”.

She suggested that Thais, not Burmese, nationals killed her sister on Koh Tao, claiming she was receiving death threats throughout the trial, including one saying the killers had only done “half the job”.

“What if I told you that I am now frightened of my own shadow?” she wrote. “That I am constantly looking over my shoulder? That I am exhausted, but frightened to sleep because of the nightmares?”

Witheridge said she made the post after she saw an “ignorant [Facebook] comment someone had made about how Thailand is the most beautiful place in the world”.

“Aesthetically, on a postcard or photograph, maybe,” she said. “Aesthetic beauty can lure you into a very dangerous trap.”

When her family visited in 2014 to hear about the investigation into the murders, Witheridge said, Thai police offered to give an official update at their headquarters but “200 journalists were allowed into the room and we were ambushed by this mob of hungry journalists shoving cameras in our faces”.

She added: “The Thai police chief had no intentions of giving us an update … after all, the bungled investigation meant he had nothing to tell us. The invitation was merely an opportunity for the press to take photographs of our family.”

The family was later “absolutely appalled” when “the Thais offered us ‘compensation’”, she said.

The police rushed to solve the crime, under intense international pressure.

They were criticised for not properly securing the crime scene and conducting more than 200 random DNA tests, including the Burmese migrants who were initially released when no match was found.

They also released names and pictures of suspects who turned out to be innocent and mishandled crucial DNA evidence from the victims.

The main port on Tao was not secured, allowing key suspects to escape after the killing.

The son of a village chief and another British backpacker were seen with the couple shortly before their death but neither were questioned.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Norfolk, was found on a Koh Tao beach alongside 24-year-old David Miller, her boyfriend, from Jersey, in September 2014. Witheridge had been raped and beaten to death and Miller had been attacked and left to drown, Thai police say.

Laura Witheridge says more suspicious deaths have occurred subsequently on Koh Tao, including Briton Luke Miller – unrelated to David Miller – whose body was found in a pool this month. Thai police said he drowned while drunk.

“You probably haven’t heard of them all, as not all were British nationals. The deaths, where possible, are covered up as suicides and accidents. This would have happened with Hannah, if it had not been for the hideous brutality of her passing.

“Hiding the truth and offering a story that suits, is something that they do often,” she said.

The Witheridge family did not comment on the sentencing of migrant bar workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo on 24 December.

The Burmese pair initially confessed to the rape and murder but later withdrew their statements, saying they had been tortured into confessing.