Thailand sentences two Myanmar migrants to death for killing two British backpackers on a beach on & # 39; death island & # 39; Koh Tao while the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal
- David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were beaten to death on the Thai island in 2014
- Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin arrested shortly thereafter and initially confessed to the murders
- Since then, they have withdrawn confessions, said they were tortured, and their lawyers say that forensic evidence was infected against them
- But the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and enforced the death penalty against them
The Supreme Court of Thailand has confirmed the murder sentences against two Myanmar migrant workers who have been sentenced to death for killing two British backpackers.
Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin were sentenced to death in December 2015 for the murder of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge, who were found dead in September 2014 on the island of Koh Tao.
Phyo and Lin initially confessed to the murders, but their supporters claim they were tortured by the police to make the confession.
Lawyers also claim that forensic evidence used to convict them was infected and had to be thrown away.
Migrants from Myanmar Zaw Lin (left) and Wai Phyo (right) have confirmed their murder conviction for the murder of two British backpackers in 2014 by the Supreme Court of Thailand
David Miller (left) and Hannah Witheridge (right) were found dead on a beach on the island of Koh Tao in 2014, with Phyo and Lin being sentenced to death the following year
In their verdict, a panel of two judges said that the death sentences handed down by lower courts would be enforced because the men were found guilty of murder and rape based on evidence and forensic results.
The men showed no emotion as they listened attentively to a translator while the verdict was read to a court in the Nonthaburi province, just north of Bangkok, the capital.
The men's legal team said it would request a royal pardon within 60 days, as provided for in Thai law.
After the discovery of British tourist bodies on a beach on Koh Tao, police said Witheridge had been raped and clubbed to death and that Miller had been hit on the head.
The murders tarnished Thailand's image in the tourism sector, which accounts for around 10 percent of the country's economy.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were quickly arrested and later sentenced to death in 2015, a verdict confirmed by the court in 2017.
Hannah (pictured on the right with a friend on Koh Tao shortly before her death) was backpacking in Thailand while studying at the University of Essex to become a speech therapist
Thai police have faced widespread national and international criticism of their handling of the case and the evidence.
A pro-bono legal team defending the men said that evidence collected by the police was unreliable and not in accordance with internationally accepted standards, and argued that it should not have been used to convict them.
The lawyers also said that the accused men were tortured and forced to make confessions that they subsequently withdrew.
& # 39; The death penalty against the two suspects and their conviction must be reversed and destroyed & # 39 ;, said Andy Hall, adviser to the men's legal team, in a statement to the media.
& # 39; DNA and forensic evidence on which Zaw Law and Wai Phyo were convicted and sentenced to death in the Koh Tao murder case, was fundamentally flawed and unreliable in terms of international standards. & # 39;
Thai courts have rejected allegations of torture and held that DNA evidence linked employees to the crime.
David and Hannah were clubbed to death on this Thai beach in early September 2014, shortly before Lin and Phyo were arrested
Lin (left) and Phyo (right, both wearing helmets) initially confessed to the murders and were taken to the murder scene to reconstruct what they said happened, but later recoiled
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