Two Myanmar men have been charged with the murder of two British tourists in Thailand, public prosecutors said, the latest turn in a case that has been marred by allegations of a clumsy investigation and torture.
The men stand accused of murdering David Miller, 24, and raping and murdering Hannah Witheridge, 23, on the Thai diving resort of Koh Tao in September.
The two migrant workers, both 21, were formally indicted for trial on Thursday and are due to enter a plea on Monday, according to prosecutors on nearby Koh Samui, where the case will be heard.
“The court will ask the defendants whether they confess or deny the charges,” chief prosecutor Paiboon Archavanuntakun told the AFP news agency.
The men – who did not appear in court on Thursday – are also accused of battery and illegal entry to Thailand, among other charges, he added.
They were were named as suspects in October.
Police said the pair had confessed to the murders and that DNA samples found on Witheridge matched the suspects – despite the fact that the two had at the time yet to appear in court to face any charge and speak for themselves.
Wai Phyo was formerly identified as Win Zaw Htun.
Both later retracted their confessions, saying they had been beaten and threatened with electrocution – accusations police deny.
Their families and legal team have also protested their innocence, saying the men have been made scapegoats by a police force desperate for a quick conclusion to a crime which raised fears over tourist safety in the kingdom.
Last month, the suspects appealed to the victims’ families and the British government for help. In a letter written in Burmese, the pair said they had nothing to do with the crime.
The killings crippled tourism, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of Thai gross domestic product, and the investigation has raised serious questions over police tactics.
Thailand is under martial law following a May coup that saw the army seize power after months of political demonstrations, which had already kept some visitors away.