Two Burmese Men Found Guilty, Receive Death Penalty in Koh Tao Case

By Saw Yan Naing 24 December 2015

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A Koh Samui Court sentenced two Burmese men to death on Thursday over the killing of two British backpackers on a Thai resort island last year.

“The court said they were guilty and sentenced them to the death penalty,” British labor rights activist Andy Hall, who has been working with the defense team, told The Irrawaddy.

Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were on trial for the murder of David Miller and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge on Koh Tao in September last year.

The handling of the case by Thai police has been the subject of significant controversy and the two Burmese defendants alleged they were tortured into a confession. Some rights activists contended during the course of the trial that the two accused were made scapegoats for the brutal murders.

“We visited them [the accused] yesterday in prison. They were confident,” Hall said before the verdict was delivered on Thursday morning.

Min Oo of the Foundation for Education and Development, also working with the defense team, said they would appeal Thursday’s verdict within seven days.

“The court charged them on seven cases. Other charges included on illegal status, murder and rape,” he said. “We already expected this kind of verdict. It is not finished yet. We are discussing with defense lawyers how we will make another appeal to the court within seven days. Our defense team are not happy with the result. But we will try to help however we can.”