Two Thai fishermen 'confess to killing British tourist'

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The Independent Online

Two Thai fisherman have confessed to the rape and murder of a British tourist who was attacked during an evening beach stroll on New Year's Day at a resort island in Thailand, police said today.

Katherine Horton, 21, a university student from Cardiff, Wales, was vacationing on the popular Thai island of Koh Samui. Her battered body, still clad in an evening dress, was discovered the morning of 2 January by a jet skier in the Gulf of Thailand.

Police said they arrested two fisherman early today at a pier in Koh Samui, after questioning more than a dozen suspects, both Thai and foreigners.

"The suspects have admitted to raping and killing the British tourist, but we have brought them to Bangkok for DNA testing to be sure," Police Maj. Asawin Khawanmuang told reporters at police headquarters in Bangkok.

One of the suspects, Bauloy Kotisit, 23, told police he had raped Horton, while the other suspect, Vichai Soontayai, 24, confessed to being an accomplice to her murder, police said.

Under questioning, the fishermen told police they spotted Horton while she was walking alone on a beach talking on her cell phone and approached her from behind, Asawin said. He said the two men admitted to beating Horton with a wooden club, raping her and dragging her into the sea.

Horton had apparently called her mother at home in Wales. Her mother, Elizabeth Horton, told police she was speaking with her daughter when she heard her scream, and then the line went dead, said police Maj. Panya Mamen.

Police said last week that tests on Horton's body found traces of semen that could have come from her killer, but said at the time that there was no evidence of rape. They also had said previously that Horton was believed killed by a single person.

The doctor who performed the autopsy in Bangkok, Lt. Col. Dr. Pattana Kitkailart, said doctors had initially said there was no evidence of rape because tests on Horton's body showed no sign of injury to her internal organs. But, they had not ruled out rape, he said.

"She could have been raped while unconscious," Pattana told The Associated Press.

Investigators have not yet determined whether she was raped before or after being beaten.

The arrests followed an unusual public appeal last week by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to find the killers, saying that the slaying hurt the country's image and could damage its tourism industry, already suffering a downturn from last year's tsunami and the bird flu scare.