THE TELEPHONE found in jungle close to the workers' accommodation, broken into pieces, belonged to David Miller, not Hannah Witheridge. Police clarified that fact on Saturday night. Phuketwan apologises to readers for the confusion.
PHUKET: The arrests of two bar workers for the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller came when a top policeman from Phuket was brought in to become the chief investigator on the island of Koh Tao.
Major General Paween Pongsirin, who has been arresting taxi thugs and attacking beach corruption on Phuket, a much larger holiday island on the other side of Thailand's isthmus, apprehended the two Burmese for questioning soon after he was ordered to go to Koh Tao on Wednesday.
The major general said he spent ''all night and all day'' interviewing the two Burmese suspects, who worked at a bar where Witheridge, 23, and Miller, 24, had been drinking hours before the brutal slaying.
He would only say that there must have been ''some error'' in the police investigation after the bodies of the two British tourists were discovered on a beach on September 15.
''I believe we now have the killers,'' Major General Paween told Phuketwan last night. ''We have the right people. DNA has confirmed the confessions.''
Major General Paween said he took the Burmese, named as Win and Zaw Rim, both aged 21, through the details of the murders at length before yesterday's public reenactment in which the two accused wore helmets and flak jackets.
Win told him that a mobile telephone, believed to belong to Hannah Witheridge, had been broken into pieces and thrown into the jungle near where the Burmese lived. The broken telephone was found in a search by police, Major General Paween said.
The two gave a detailed and very specific account of how the two murders were carried out, Major General Paween said. The pair and another friend had been playing a guitar nearby when the couple strolled past.
The Burmese told him that they attacked from behind as the British couple walked along the beach, using a hoe to hit Miller on the head.
Both the Burmese raped Hannah Witheridge while a third Burmese looked on, Major General Paween said he was told.
''They then used the same hoe to kill her,'' Major General Paween said.
''The pair stripped the pants from David Miller to make it look as though the couple had had sex in an attempt to confuse police.''
The two men worked in the AC Bar on Koh Tao. Win had worked there once previously and returned to a similar job there five months ago.
Earlier this year, Major General Paween spent several months leading an undercover team of police on Phuket in an investigation of alleged taxi and tuk-tuk ''mafia.'' The drivers were accused of intimidation and extortion of tourist resorts.
More than 200 arrests followed, mostly in Kata-Karon and Patong, when the task force swooped.
As well as planning more taxi-related arrests on Phuket, the major general has recently exposed corruption on the island's beaches where sunbed operators extorted massive amounts from resorts for use of the public sands.
''What's happened on Koh Tao is not complicated, like the problems on Phuket,'' the major general said.
''The murders on Koh Tao are shocking. Phuket is just as shocking, but in a different way.''
Major General Paween worked on Phuket years ago but only returned this year to conduct the Region 8 special investigation.
He and his boss, Lieutenant General Panya Mamen, were both promoted on Tuesday. The major general was ordered to Koh Tao on Wednesday.
Today the two Burmese from Koh Tao were taken to appear in court on the neighboring island of Samui. The third man is expected to be an important witness in the case.