September 25, 2014 / 9:42 AM / 4 years ago

Thai deputy PM wants more surveillance cameras after British murders

BANGKOK (Reuters) - More surveillance cameras are to be installed in Bangkok and at tourist destinations in Thailand following the murder of two British tourists, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (R) reads out his government's policy, as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan listens, at the Parliament in Bangkok September 12, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

The bodies of Hanna Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered last week on a beach on the island of Koh Tao, or Turtle Island, famous for its turquoise waters, coral reefs and diving.

The killings have sparked debate over tourist safety in a country promoted as a land of welcoming Buddhist people, palm-fringed beaches and lively night life.

Miller died from blows to the head and drowning, according to the Thai forensics department, while Witheridge died from severe head wounds.

Police are investigating.

General Prawit Wongsuwan, a deputy prime minister, told reporters that the murder occurred in an area where there were no surveillance cameras and underlined the need for more closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems around the country.

“In dark places, CCTV cameras can’t capture images properly so there must be brighter lights. In Bangkok and tourist areas there must be brighter lighting and there must be CCTV all over the country,” Prawit said.

He said authorities were working around-the-clock to find those responsible for the murders.

Thailand attracts more than 20 million tourists each year and the tourist industry accounts for about 10 percent of gross domestic product.

Following the killings, authorities have sought to reassure travellers that Thailand is safe. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday that solving the case was a matter of national importance.

“If we say we can’t catch the perpetrators then it reflects badly on us. We must accelerate confidence in Thailand,” Prayuth said.

On Wednesday, police said they were close to making an arrest. Senior officers later said they were trying to track down a suspect who may have been in Bangkok.

“Police have almost finished collecting evidence and will not leave any stone unturned. More officials have gone to the island to assist the local team,” police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kissana Phatanacharoen told Reuters.

Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel

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