Thailand's police to ask US FBI for help in testing semen found on dead British tourist

KOH TAO, Thailand (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The police will request help from the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to test semen found in the body of a female British backpacker brutally murdered on the resort island of Koh Tao this week.

DNA testing technology in Thailand could only identify whether human secretions came from a male or female, said deputy police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang, while the FBI had "sophisticated technology".

"We will ask the FBI to help identify the DNA in the semen we found - whether it belonged to an Asian or European," he said yesterday.

The bodies of Ms Hannah Witheridge and fellow British national David Miller, both 24, were found on Monday morning on Koh Tao, in Surat Thani province. Autopsies revealed they were brutally beaten, while Mr Miller was drowned during the deadly attack.

General Somyot, who will become police chief next month, said he would travel to Koh Tao today to inspect the crime scene and follow up on the latest developments of the investigation.

"This is a big case and the Premier has been very concerned about the matter," he said.

Meanwhile, residents on Koh Tao are offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of the killers, Koh Tao Mayor Chaiyan Turasakul told Agence France-Presse.

Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha said in his weekly televised address to the nation yesterday that he had ordered the police to bring the culprits to immediate justice.

"Progress has been made continuously although it is not known yet who are the killers," he said.

"The authorities concerned have been assigned to ensure safety at tourist attractions. People and volunteers must also engage in assisting and monitoring for the sake of safety."

General Somyot revealed that the latest inspection of the crime scene unearthed a cigarette butt at a spot on the island where traces of Ms Witheridge's DNA was found. He said it was likely that she met her attackers at the spot and had a conversation there.

General Jaramporn Suramanee, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office who visited Koh Tao on Thursday, said on that day that several pieces of evidence had been found at the scene.

He visited the scene after DNA samples collected from the body of Ms Witheridge did not match those of the 12 suspects.

Gen Jaramporn was speaking after searching an area near the crime scene towards the sea during low tide on Thursday night.

He simulated what might have happened, including focusing on the distance between the location where the bodies were found and a hoe believed to be the murder weapon.

Witnesses near the crime scene told police they saw three men near in the area on the night of the murders.

A tourism police commander, Major-General Atichai Ti-amart, said the police were also looking for a foreign woman captured on CCTV running near the crime scene.

Police investigators continued to gather more evidence yesterday, focusing on trying to identify an Asian man seen in CCTV footage at the time of the murder.

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