Koh Tao Defense Team to File Appeal With Thai Supreme Court

By Nyein Nyein 2 March 2017

CHIANG MAI, Thailand – The legal defense team representing the two Burmese migrant workers sentenced to death for the 2014 murder and rape of two Britons in Thailand’s Koh Tao island, will next file an appeal with the Thai Supreme Court, after being rejected in the appeal court.

U Kyaw Thaung, a member of the men’s defense team, said, they have been discussing when to submit the next appeal, to Thailand’s highest court. “We will do so within the next week,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The defense team said they were not formally informed about the ruling in this very controversial case, in which the two men, Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, received the death penalty for charges they have denied, involving the deaths of British nationals Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24.

The verdict was handed down by the Koh Samui Township Court in December 2015, and the two men lost their appeal to the District Court of Appeal in March 2017.

The appeal was nearly 200 pages long and argued that the DNA evidence which led to the conviction was inadmissible and had not been “collected, tested, analyzed or reported in accordance with internationally accepted standards,” Reuters reported.

U Htoo Chit, the director of the Foundation for Education Development—an organization providing outreach to migrant workers in Thailand—said, “the Lawyer’s Council of Thailand—the legal body assisting the Burmese defense team—was not officially informed about the verdict of the appeal. But we will consult with the defense lawyers to keep our appeal in accordance with the Thai judicial system.”

“Also we learned that Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin were not properly informed through the translator, either,” he added. “But the District Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the [Koh Samui] township criminal court ruling.”

It was not clear when the Appeal Court’s verdict was made, but it was known publicly after being published in Thai media on Wednesday afternoon, said the defense team members.