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Lawyers of the Two Myanmar Men Sentence to Death for Koh Tao Murders, Optimistic about Winning Appeal



Ko Zaw Linn and Ko Wai Phyo,lawyers optimistic their appeal will be successful.

Ko Zaw Linn and Ko Wai Phyo,lawyers optimistic their appeal will be successful.



SURAT THANI – The Lawyers for two Myanmar nationals, Ko Zaw Linn and Ko Wai Phyo, sentenced to death in Thailand for the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao are optimistic about winning their appeal after the court refused the prosecution extra time to prepare.

The court announced that no further extensions will be granted to the prosecution, which has delayed the hearing of the appeal nine times since it was lodged in May this year, according to a Myanmar Times report.

Prosecutors have until Nov 10 to submit a reply to the defendants’ appeal. To date, they have not done so.

Ko Zaw Linn and Ko Wai Phyo were convicted and sentenced to death in December 2015 for the murder of David Miller and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge on Koh Tao, a popular tourist island.

At the time of their conviction, the defence lawyers said the judgement was “an extreme miscarriage of justice”, claiming the prosecution case was based on circumstantial evidence.

In May, the migrant workers’ lawyers lodged a 198-page appeal detailing 21 deficiencies in the prosecution case, including the incorrect admission of evidence and the failure of police to identify a potential suspect in CCTV footage who was referred to as the “running man”. Concerns over the veracity of DNA evidence used to convict the pair also plagued the case.

Aung Myo Thant, a legal adviser at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, said if the prosecution did not provide any reply to the appeal by the Nov 10 deadline, Ko Zaw Linn and Ko Wai Phyo would have a strong chance of a favourable outcome. The court would have to consider the points made in the appeal without any rebuttal from the prosecution.

“We don’t know how the court will decide, but the sentence may well be changed if the prosecutor does not make any reply to our appeal. Our appeal is strong and points out many weak points in the prosecution  case that suggest that the crimes may not have been carried out by these two Myanmar migrant workers,” said Aung Myo Thant.

Sein Htay, chair of the Migrant Worker Rights Network, was similarly optimistic.

“If the prosecutor does not lodge a reply to the appeal, this could be a good sign for Zaw and Phyo,” he said.

Sein Htay said the two defendants were recently visited by a representative of his organisation at the prison where they are detained. Their mental health was reportedly strong and they hope to soon be released, he said.

By Nyan Lynn Aung | Myanmar Times

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