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Thailand’s Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Burmese Migrants

Thailand’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentences passed by the Criminal and Appeal courts for two Burmese migrants.



BANGKOK – Thailand’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentences passed by the Criminal and Appeal courts for two Burmese migrants. Convicted of the September 2014 murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao.

Thailand’s highest court on Thursday passed final judgement on Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun. Ruling that all the evidence, including DNA samples and witness statements, proved their crime.

The court rejected the argument that police had fabricated evidence and arrested them as scapegoats.

The Supreme Court also upheld their death sentence confirmed last year by the Appeal Court. Which upheld the Samui Provincial Court’s ruling in 2015.

Lawyers for the two Burmese migrants argued against the reliability of forensic evidence. They also argued over thelegality of the investigation process.

Chief defense counsel Nakhon Chompuchat said after the Appeal Court ruling last year that they would argue before the Supreme Court. The forensic procedures and autopsy results which confirmed DNA from the two men matched samples collected from Witheridge’s body were unreliable.

The pair have been held at Bang Kwang Prison in central Thailand since their conviction. Which was read out at the Criminal Court and broadcast inside the court in Nonthaburi Province.

Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin have denied killing David Miller and raping and killing Hannah Witheridge.

Witheridge, 23, and Miller, 24, had come to Thailand separately and met at the hotel where both were staying.

The two Burmese migrants, both 22 at the time, were employed as service workers on the island.

The trial also saw a well-known Thai forensics expert testify that the DNA evidence did not link them the scene.

The expert also alleged that police had failed to properly control the crime scene and mishandled the DNA evidence.

The court rejected the defense arguments in December 2015 convicted both defendants of murder and sentenced them to death.

Human Rights Watch at the time called the verdict “profoundly disturbing” questionable DNA evidence linking them to the crime. The parents of the Burmese migrantssay their sons are scapegoats.

A series of deaths there of other foreign tourists – played up by British tabloids – continue to contribute to unease about the case.

The Associated Press

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