Death penalty upheld in Koh Tao murder case

Death penalty upheld in Koh Tao murder case
Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin (L) and Win Zaw Htun arrive at the Koh Samui provincial court in Koh Samui, Thailand, December 24, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

The Court of Appeal has upheld the death penalty against two Myanmar migrant workers for one of the most shocking crimes in Thailand's history - the violent murders of two British backpackers on the resort island of Koh Tao.

David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were fatally beaten on the beach on September 15, 2014. Witheridge was also raped.

The gruesome crime made headlines in Thailand and across the world.

Police arrested defendant Zaw Lin on Koh Tao - a part of Surat Thani province - about two weeks after the crime took place.

Wai Phyo (Win Zaw Tun), the second defendant, was later arrested at a pier in Surat Thani town.

The two defendants pled innocent and insisted that their initial confessions had been made under duress.

Their legal team also tried to rebut evidence submitted by the plaintiff.

Read also: Migrant confesses to Koh Tao murders

The Criminal Court, however, ruled in December 2015 that there was sufficient evidence against the two migrant workers, convicting and sentencing them to death.

After reviewing the evidence, the Court of Appeal concluded the defendants were guilty beyond doubt.

"All items of evidence offered by the plaintiffs are reasonably linked and solid. The ruling is not made on any single piece of evidence but as a whole," the court said.

The court dismissed as unreasonable the defendants' complaint that investigators had failed to record every step of the process in gathering evidence.

The defendants argued that police did not have pictures of collecting samples from the female victim.

"It's not possible to take pictures of every step taken in a long process," the court ruled.

Nakhon Chomphuchat, a lawyer for the defendants, said they would now file a petition the Supreme Court.

Both defendants are being held at the Bang Kwang Central Prison in Nonthaburi province.

They were informed of the Appeal Court's ruling on February 23 at Nonthaburi Provincial Court, while the verdict was read out officially for the plaintiffs to hear at Samui Provincial Court yesterday, Nakhon said.

Read also: Protests stirred up in Myanmar over Koh Tao murders

Koh Tao murders: DNA tests will be done in Singapore

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