Essex: Burmese men allegedly retract confessions of killing university student Hannah Witheridge

Hannah Witheridge

Hannah Witheridge - Credit: Archant

Two men who admitted killing British backpackers on the Thai island of Koh Tao have allegedly retracted their confessions.

Reports in Thailand claim Burmese bar workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, have now withdrawn their admissions, according to their lawyers.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, a speech and language therapy student at the University of Essex living in Colchester, reportedly died from head wounds while David Miller, 24, from Jersey, is said to have died from drowning and a blow to the head.

Their bodies were found on September 15.

The families of the two men accused of their killings have told the BBC they do not believe they committed the crimes.

Campaigners claim Thai police often blame crimes on Burmese migrant workers and their investigations cannot be trusted.

Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission said that it had found evidence the two suspects were physically abused by the police.

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It came after reconstructions of the killings were demonstrated in front of the cameras following their apparent confessions.

The suspects were charged with three offences – conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to rape, and robbery.

But later reports, denied by the Thai police, suggested that a Burmese embassy official had formally retracted their confessions amid allegations the pair were tortured.

Concerns have also been raised in the UK that the two men are innocent “scapegoats”. A petition signed by more than 100,000 people has been handed into 10 Downing Street demanding a new, independent investigation into the deaths.