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Thailand Court Upholds Death Penalty For Men Accused Of Murdering British Backpackers
29 August 2019, 11:27 | Updated: 29 August 2019, 11:28
Two Burmese men were sentenced in 2014 for the murders of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller have had their convictions upheld.
Two Burmese migrant workers sentenced to death for the murder of two British tourists in Thailand in 2014 have had their sentences upheld.
Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, also known as Win Zaw Htun, were handed the death penalty in December 2015.
They were convicted of the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller after their bodies were found on the beach of Koh Tao in September 2014.
Hannah Witheridge had been raped and battered to death and David Miller had head injuries and had been dragged into the sea to drown on the holiday island of Koh Tao.
The backpackers met whilst staying at the same hotel on the island.
Supporters of the two men claim that the pair have been frames and that the DNA evidence used to convict them had been mishandled.
Their lawyers have also claimed that the pair were forced to give their initial confessions under torture, and these confessions were later retracted.
It is also claimed that the men were of aware of their rights when originally questioned.
However, Thailand's Supreme Court has upheld the guilty verdict, after deciding that forensic and mobile phone evidence supported the original sentences.
At the time of the original convictions, the case was highly controversial, and it led to protests in Myanmar, with many people saying that they two men were scapegoats. It also raised questions about the treatment of migrant workers in Thailand.
Human Rights Watch also called the case "profoundly disturbing".
Lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman stated: "they were not given the opportunity to talk with the legal council, no lawyers and also no interpreter."
Their legal team have confirmed that they will apply for royal pardon from the king to try and overturn the death sentences.
At the time of the first convictions, David Miller's brother said that justice had been served, and that the family believe the investigation and decision of the Thai police and courts is correct.
The brutality of the killings dented Thailand's reputation as a tourist haven and raised serious questions about its treatment of migrant workers.
Tourism currently makes up 10% of the entire Thai economy.