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The BBC's David Willis in Chang Mai
"Early leads appear to be drying up"
 real 56k

Sunday, 20 August, 2000, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Thai tests clear five suspects
Police Chief General Aram Chanpen
Police Chief Gen Aram Chanpen: Two prime suspects
All the foreign nationals present at the Thai hostel where Welsh backpacker Kirsty Jones was raped and murdered have been cleared of her murder.

Steven Trigg, 27, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, Nathan Foley, 26, who holds both British and Australian passports, Australian Stuart Crichton, 28, and Frenchman Jacquel Wilfried have been given their passports back and told they are free to leave the country .

Andrew Gill, 32, the owner of the hostel, is being deported because his visa was two years out of date.

Only Surin Chanpranet, 47, the Thai manager of the guest house and the guide who took Ms Jones trekking remain under suspicion.

The five foreigners were all cleared in forensic tests.

Kirsty Jones
Kirsty Jones: Killer not caught
But tests on the two Thai suspects proved inconclusive and police are now waiting for the results of a second round of tests.

The guide, known only as Narong, burst into the police press conference and claimed that police tried to beat a confession out of him.

He said he was kidnapped by a group of police officers who beat and threatened to kill him if he did not confess to the crime.

He told the BBC's Asia Correspondent David Willis that after he refused he was drugged and dumped on the street.

The police chief has promised to investigate his allegations.

Thai police have faced criticism over their handling of the inquiry.

Criticism

Ten days after Ms Jones, from Tredomen near Brecon in mid Wales, was raped and strangled at a guesthouse in the northern city of Chiang Mai, officers have yet to unearth evidence linking any of their key suspects to the murder.

But General Aram Chanpen, the region's police chief, told a news conference on Sunday that the investigation was going well.

He also revealed that police have two new witnesses - Thai students who had been staying near the Aree guesthouse and had heard Miss Jones's cries for help.

Tour guide Narong
Tour guide Narong: Claims of police brutality
Mr Chanpen also said the search was on for the driver of a Tuk-Tuk - a motorised rickshaw - who is believed to be the last person to have seen Ms Jones, 23, alive after bringing her home from the night market.

However, a senior British embassy official has described the investigation as a shambles.

The unnamed official is quoted in a local newspaper - The Nation - as saying that lurid and conflicting reports of the case have left her family distraught.

Allowing local officers and journalists into Ms Jones' room before the forensic scientists arrived had provoked early criticism.

It was compounded by senior officers' conflicting accounts of the cause of her death.

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See also:

18 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Backpacker murder inquiry closes in
14 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai police expect hostel murder arrest
12 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
DNA results due on backpacker murder
11 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Backpackers quizzed over murder
11 Aug 00 | UK
Thailand: Paradise lost?
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