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  • Thailand murders: Two men found guilty and face death for UK killings

    Thai Justice System Proves it is pre Stone age

    Thailand murders: Two men found guilty and face death for UK killings

    24 December 2015

    Two Burmese men have been found guilty and sentenced to death for murdering two UK tourists in Thailand last year.

    Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo killed Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Norfolk, and David Miller, 24, from Jersey, judges said.

    The backpackers' bodies were found on a Koh Tao island beach in September 2014.

    The defendants' lawyers say they will appeal. The accused retracted their initial confessions, saying police had tortured them.

    Mr Miller's brother said justice had now "been delivered".

    Miss Witheridge's family said they needed time "to digest the outcome of the trial verdict".

    At a Thai court in Koh Samui, three judges found the two bar workers - who were migrants from Myanmar - guilty of murder and ordered they face the death penalty.

    Miss Witheridge and Mr Miller were found on a beach having been bludgeoned to death, and a post-mortem examination showed Miss Witheridge had been raped.

    Prosecutors said DNA evidence collected from cigarette butts, a condom and the bodies of the victims, linked Lin and Phyo to the deaths.

    The investigation has been a muddled affair.

    The first officers on the scene were local police with apparently no idea how to seal off a crime scene.

    Thailand forensic scientist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, whose institute was not allowed any involvement in the investigation, testified the crime scene had been poorly managed and evidence improperly collected.

    Other flaws exposed during the trial included the police's failure to test Miss Witheridge's clothes or the alleged murder weapon for DNA.

    The key question though, hung over one piece of evidence that did tie the defendants to the crime: the alleged match between their DNA and that recovered from semen found on Miss Witheridge's body.

    The date of the original DNA analysis was said to have been 17 September, but the report submitted to court was dated 5 October - two days after police had announced a positive match. That unexplained discrepancy inevitably raises suspicion that perhaps the result was manipulated.

    Lawys defending the accused argued DNA from a garden hoe - allegedly used as the murder weapon - did not match samples taken from the men.

    They also claimed evidence had been mishandled by police and the pair's confessions were the result of "systematic abuse" of migrants in the area.

    Andy Hall, international affairs adviser for Migrant Worker Rights Network, which represented the men, said: "We strongly disagree with the decision of the court. This investigation was a shambles from the beginning.

    "The defence team have had access to all the information in this case and the information we saw did not comply with international standards."

    He said the defence team would mount an appeal in the case.

    The victims remembered

    Having earned a degree with first-class honours from the University of East Anglia she was working towards a masters degree in speech and language therapy in Essex. Her parents Tony and Sue, brother Paul and sisters Tania and Laura, described her as a "fun, vibrant and beautiful young woman" who had a love for animals.

    The University of Essex has introduced an award for outstanding excellence in clinical placements in her memory. She "would have gone on to make a significant difference to the lives of many people", her family said.

    Image copyright Miller family David Miller, 24, from Jersey, had just completed a civil and structural engineering degree at the University of Leeds. He was described as a "bright, young man and a talented artist".

    His friends and family held a memorial and commissioned a "simple seat from a plank of oak from a tree that fell in the great storm of 1987... This tree was another tower of Jersey strength brought crashing down before its time", they said.

    His parents, Ian and Susan, and his brother Michael said: "Our 24 years of memories and his beaming smile will always be cherished. David was intelligent, hard-working, he was caring, inclusive, enthusiastic and fun. He irreplaceable to us."

    The victims met on Koh Tao while staying in the same hotel.

    The family of Mr Miller attended the hearing but relatives of Miss Witheridge did not travel to Thailand for the verdicts.

    Her family said the verdict had left them "in the path of a whirlwind of emotions and difficulties".

    In a statement they said: "The past year has served as an unimaginably impossible time for our family. We have found the trial process extremely difficult and our trips out to Thailand, to attend court, made for particularly distressing experiences.

    "We found listening to proceedings very challenging and we have had to endure a lot of painful and confusing information. We now need time, as a family, to digest the outcome of the trial and figure out the most appropriate way to tell our story."

    Speaking outside court, Mr Miller's brother Michael said: "We believe the result today represents justice for David and Hannah.

    "It is our opinion that the evidence against Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin is absolutely overwhelming. They raped to satisfy their selfish desires and murdered to cover up that fact. They have shown no remorse during the trial."

    He said the Thai police investigation was "not the so-called shambles it was made out to be".

    "We saw images of two innocent-looking men surrounded by tough policemen. It was easy to conclude they might be convenient scapegoats.

    "We believe that, after a difficult start, the Royal Thai police conducted a methodical and thorough investigation."

    He added: "We hope the campaigners who have relentlessly promoted this case will respect the process of law and the decision of the court.

    "[David] was hacked down from behind, dragged into the sea and left to die. That will live with us forever," he said.

    He also paid tribute to relatives of Miss Witheridge for the "horrors they are also enduring with such dignity".

    "Our lives have been changed forever."

    Sorry I know this story has its own thread but it makes me so angry that the farce continues. So who will come to the latest victims of Thai pride?????
    Last edited by Mid; 12-27-2015, 02:30 PM. Reason: formatting

  • #2
    Thailand backpacker murders: Amnesty International calls for independent inquiry into torture claims
    Andy Lines
    25 Dec 2015

    The family of victim David Miller described the long-awaited verdict, delivered at a court on the island of Koh Samui, as "justice" but Amnesty says question marks remainLooming: Myanmar nationals Zaw Lin (left) and Win Zaw Tun (centre right) are escorted out of court following their death sentence Getty Images Murdered: Hannah Witheridge
    PA Murdered: David Miller
    PAGrief: Family members of David Miller speak to the media after hearing the verdict
    REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha


    • #3
      Death sentence for Myanmar men prompts protest at "shameless" Thais
      December 26 2015

      Zaw Lin (left) and Win Zaw Htun (right) have been sentenced to death over the murders of British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014.

      Hundreds called for the release of two Myanmar migrant workers in a protest in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, on Friday (Saturday NZ Time), a day after a Thai court sentenced the two to death for the 2014 murders of two young British tourists.

      The court convicted Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun of the brutal murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, on the Thai holiday island of Koh Tao, a case mired in controversy and questions about the police investigation and Thailand's treatment of migrant workers.

      Around 1000 people gathered in front of the Thai embassy in Yangon on Friday, police said, calling for the two to be freed. Dozens of police stood guard and closed a lane in front of the building.

      Killed in Thailand: British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller.

      Some protesters held signs saying: "Shameless Thailand government" while others shouted "We want justice" in English.

      Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were made to take part in a re-enactment of the crime last year.

      They demonstrators dispersed after their request to see the Thai ambassador was turned down.

      The verdict followed a trial that saw prosecutors build much of their case around DNA evidence that police said linked the two migrant workers to the crime. Defence lawyers argued that police had mishandled the DNA evidence and that the two men were tortured while in detention.

      The killings sullied Thailand's reputation as a happy-go-lucky tourist destination and raised questions over its justice system and its treatment of migrant workers.

      U Win Maung, Myanmar's Ambassador to Thailand, said the verdict would not affect diplomatic ties.

      "Everyone who is a human, if they hear that they are getting the death sentence, they will be sad, but this is the legal procedure so we have to adhere to the legal procedure," U Win Maung told reporters in Bangkok.

      Some activists have argued that the defendants were scapegoats. Thailand hosts about 2.5 million migrants from its poorer neighbour, many of them working in the fishing and construction industry or as domestic helpers or cleaners in hotels and restaurants.

      Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into allegations the Myanmar men were tortured, adding that police in Thailand had a "long and disturbing track record" of using torture to extract "confessions".

      A judge dismissed allegations of torture in the Koh Tao case saying there was no evidence it took place.


      • #4
        Burmese protesters call for investigation into killing of British pair

        Saturday 26 December 2015

        Demonstrators in Burma's largest city Rangoon protest against the Thai police investigation into the death of two British backpackers


        • #5
          Thailand backpacker murders: Convicted men insist they will be freed after appeal
          David Eimer
          25 Dec 2015

          Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were found guilty of killing two Britons but after their conviction, the pair insist an appeal will prove their claimed innocence

          The anguish of the families of the two British backpackers murdered on the Thaideath sentences were handed down to the men on Thursdayclearly is a pattern of abuse by the Thai policeinterview with the Telegraph at the Koh Samui District Prison in JulyBurmese


          • #6
            Thailand, Myanmar try to calm anger over death verdict
            Sunday, 27 December 2015



            • #7
              Myanmar calls on Thailand to review verdicts on 2 Myanmar workers

              YANGON, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing has called on Thailand to review verdicts concerning two Myanmar migrant workers who have been sentenced to death for murdering two British backpackers in southern Thailand last year.

              Expressing his respect for Thailand's judicial process, Min Aung Hlaing, in his new year message on Saturday evening to Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon and Army Chief General Sommai Kaotira, stressed the need to avoid a situation in which the innocent "were wrongly punished."

              He believed that "justice will be done under consideration of mutual respect and bilateral friendly relations between the two countries."
              Meanwhile, a Thai diplomat in Yangon has promised Myanmar protestors that their demand for appeal to the Thai king would be conveyed as soon as possible following demonstrations here against the Thai court's death sentences.

              Myanmar government has voiced rendering assistance to the accused by following an appeal process.

              Hundreds of Myanmar people Friday gathered outside Thai Embassy here in protest against Thai court's verdicts.

              An appeal will be made within a month, with coordination carried out with Lawyers' Council of Thailand, Myanmar Embassy in Thailand and Myanmar's civil society organizations in Thailand before Jan. 11.



              • #8
                Thailand warns citizens not to visit Myanmar amid protests over death sentence on 2 migrants
                2 hours ago

                Demonstrators hold placards outside the Thai embassy as they protest against the death sentence of Myanmar labour workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun for the murder of two British backpackers.
                PHOTO: AFP

                BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The authorities in the areas bordering Thailand and Myanmar on Saturday (Dec 26) warned Thai nationals not to visit Myanmar at this time, as thousands of people held protests across the border after a Thai court's death sentence verdict against two Myanmar migrants last week.

                Peaceful protests were held in the Tachilek and Taungoo border towns in Myanmar on Saturday. And some 60 people continued with their protests for a third day outside the Thai Embassy in Yangon on the same day.

                In Tachilek town, across Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, some 2,000 people gathered at a local stadium about 2km from the border area.

                They protested against the Samui Provincial Court's ruling last Thursday that handed down death penalties on Myanmar men Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun for the 2014 murders of British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge.

                Protest leaders submitted a letter to the Thai border authorities, who accepted it on behalf of the Thai government. The letter called for a fair and just trial.

                Thai authorities temporarily closed the border checkpoint for safety reasons. The protesters dispersed peacefully later yesterday. The border checkpoint was reopened shortly afterwards.

                At Taungoo town, about 400 Myanmar people protested against the court ruling. Some of the protesters were Myanmar migrant workers from the Thai side of the border.

                The protest was peaceful, and they dispersed at about 4pm.

                The local authorities in Kanchanaburi's Sangkhla Buri district, which is across the border from the Myanmar town, urged Thai tourists in Myanmar to return home urgently and advised those about to cross the border to delay their visit.

                About 60 protesters gathered yesterday outside the Thai Embassy in Yangon, which was closed for the weekend. The demonstration was peaceful and security officials were sent to monitor the situation, according to Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee.

                Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said yesterday that he did not think the protests in Myanmar would worsen and sour ties between the two countries.

                He said the Thai government was aware of the protesters' demands. "But we have to let the justice process to take its course anyway. That's an international standard of practice. The Thai court system is acceptable," he said.

                The two Myanmar convicts were yesterday transferred from a jail on Koh Samui to the Nakhon Si Thammarat prison. They were moved early on Saturday morning to a maximum-security prison that is intended for convicts sentenced to life imprisonment or the death penalty.

                Meanwhile, the Thai Journalists' Association (TJA) yesterday issued a statement in response to an earlier statement by the Myanmar Journalists' Association about the court verdict.

                The TJA said it agreed with the MJA that as journalists, "our responsibility is to seek truth and justice".

                The statement said: "We see the utmost importance of seeking truth and justice, especially in such a controversial case like the tragedy on Koh Tao. The Thai media has already engaged in investigative reporting on this case throughout the judicial process."

                Pressure from Myanmar has also come from the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the recent general elections.

                The party issued a statement urging the Myanmar government to give necessary assistance in filing an appeal on behalf of the Koh Tao convicts.

                The NLD also welcomed the protest against the court decision outside the Thai Embassy in a way that would not tarnish the country's dignity, Eleven Myanmar reported on Saturday.



                • #9

                  Saturday, 26 December 2015

                  One of the two Myanmar migrant workers who are accused of the killing of two British tourists, Zaw Lin is escorted by a Thai police officer after they were sentenced to death at the Samui Provincial Court on Koh Samui Island, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand, 24 December 2015.
                  Photo: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA


                  • #10
                    Thai diplomat promises to convey Myanmar protestors' demand to Thai king
                    Editor: xuxin

                    YANGON, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- A Thai diplomat in Yangon has promised Myanmar protestors that their demand for appeal to the Thai king would be conveyed following demonstration here against Thai court's death sentences given to two Myanmar men, an official report said Saturday.

                    Thai Consul Chatnopdol Aksornsawad told the protestors that he cannot interfere in his country's justice system, adding he can convey their demand to the king and the people of Thailand in sympathy with the feeling of the Myanmar people.

                    Myanmar government officials have noted on their Facebook accounts that the government will assist the accused with an appeal process.

                    Hundreds of Myanmar people Friday gathered outside the Thai Embassy here in protest against Thai court's death sentence verdict on two Myanmar migrant workers for murdering two British backpackers in southern Thailand last year.

                    People from all walks of life, including Buddhist monks, political activists and artists, participated in the protest demanding the release of the two Myanmar young men.

                    An appeal will be launched against the death sentences within a month, and coordination will also be made among lawyers' council of Thailand, Myanmar Embassy in Thailand and Myanmar's civil society organizations in Thailand before Jan. 11.



                    • #11

                      Teeranai Charuvastra
                      26 December 2015

                      A van carrying Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo leaves Samui prison for Nakhon Si Thammarat prison Saturday morning.

                      BANGKOK As of the time of this writing, the Thai Journalist Association has not made any public response to the letter. [UPDATE: The TJA published its response on Saturday afternoon here


                      • #12
                        Response to the open letter from the MJA to the TJA

                        วันเสาร์ที่ 26 ธันวาคม 2015 เวลา 14:04 น.
                        ความเคลื่อนไหวองค์กรวิชาชีพสื่อ - ความเคลื่อนไหวองค์กรวิชาชีพสื่อ

                        Response to the open letter from the MJA to the TJA
                        26th December 2015

                        One of main objectives of the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) is to promote journalistic professionalism.

                        We agree with the Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA) that as journalists, our responsibility is to seek truth and justice.

                        Not only for the existing friendship between the MJA and the TJA or between the people of our countries, we see the utmost importance of seeking truth and justice, especially in such a controversial case like the tragedy on Koh Tao Island.

                        As the court conviction of two Myanmar migrant workers on 24th December 2015 has not been final and the defendants can appeal, Thai media are ready to publicise the facts and evidences available from the investigation as they are.

                        However, after the incident happened, the Thai Media has already practiced investigative reporting on this case throughout the judicial process.

                        It is our pleasure to collaborate with the MJA in finding truth and fighting for justice, human rights and democratic values.

                        We do believe that the close collaboration in revealing the truth behind this case will further promote the existing friendship between the two journalists associations, the people of our two countries as promoting justice which is one of the top values for humanities.

                        Thai Journalists Association



                        • #13
                          Myanmar's army chief asks Thailand to review death sentence for pair over murder of 2 Britons
                          4 hours ago

                          A protester holding a placard during a demonstration against a Thai court's death sentence for two Myanmar migrant workers, in front of Thailand's Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, on Dec 26, 2015.
                          Hundreds of protesters gathered in Yangon to express their anger at the death sentences handed down to two Myanmar citizens for the murder of two British tourists in southern Thailand.
                          Illegal migrant workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were found guilty on Dec 24 of the rape and murder of Ms Hannah Witheridge and the murder of Mr David Miller on the island resort of Koh Tao in September 2014, in a case where the evidence presented and investigation have been widely questioned.

                          PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

                          YANGON (AFP) - Myanmar's army chief has called on Thailand to review the sentencing of two countrymen to death for murdering a pair of British backpackers after a controversial trial that sparked protests.

                          General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the country's influential military, has asked Thailand for a "review of the evidence" against the two men, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported on Sunday (Dec 27).

                          Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were found guilty on Thursday of killing Mr David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Ms Hannah Witheridge, 23, whose battered bodies were found on a beach in the southern Thai diving resort of Koh Tao in September last year.

                          The grim killings have sullied Thailand's reputation as a tourist haven and raised questions over its justice system after the defence accused the police of bungling their investigation and using the men as scapegoats - a charge the authorities deny.

                          The verdicts have sparked anger in Myanmar, with daily protests held outside the Thai embassy in Yangon and at border crossings with the country's eastern neighbour.

                          The Global New Light of Myanmar said Gen Hlaing expressed his concerns about the verdict in a New Year message to senior Thai junta leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.

                          "The commander-in-chief expressed his respect for Thailand's judicial process while stressing the need to avoid a situation in which the innocent... were wrongly punished," the newspaper reported.

                          The statement is the strongest suggestion yet that senior Myanmar leaders are unhappy with the Thai court's decision amid a surge of sympathy for the two accused in their homeland.

                          Protesters in Myanmar were planning a fresh series of rallies outside Yangon's famed Shwe Dagon pagoda on Sunday afternoon.

                          Thai prosecutors and police insist their evidence against the men - both migrant workers - was rock solid, including the DNA found on Ms Witheridge's body.

                          At a press conference on Sunday, Thai police insisted their investigation was above board and hit out at the recent protests in Myanmar.

                          "We reaffirm that our investigation was done transparently and was in compliance with international standards," national spokesman Police General Dejnarong Suthichanbancha told reporters.

                          But the defence, which has vowed to appeal the verdict, disputed the forensic evidence, saying it was improperly collected and processed.

                          They also accused the police of torturing their clients into signing confessions, which they later retracted.

                          Amnesty International has accused the Thai authorities of failing to independently investigate those allegations.

                          Rights groups say the Thai police have a long history of using torture to extract confessions.

                          On Sunday, the Bangkok Post published a long investigation into the arrest of four Myanmar nationals in western Thailand for the September stabbing of a teenage girl in Rayong. The four also alleged that they were tortured, a claim the police have denied.

                          Activists say the case reflects a wider trend of low-paid migrant workers from neighbouring countries being blamed for crimes in Thailand where the justice system is easily bent by wealth and power.

                          However, the Thai authorities have received an endorsement from Mr Miller's family, who backed the investigators after the verdict was announced, saying they believed the evidence against the two accused was "overwhelming".

                          The court in Koh Samui also dismissed the defence's torture allegations.

                          On Saturday, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were moved to a high-security prison in Nakhon Si Thammarat on the southern Thai mainland where many death-row inmates are held.

                          Although Thailand retains capital punishment, executions are rare.



                          • #14
                            Thai police defend investigation into Britons' murder after Burmese protests
                            Sunday 27 Decemer 2015

                            Protesters outside the Thai embassy in Yangon on Saturday.

                            Photograph: Phyo Mg Mg/AFP/Getty Images

                            Police in ThailandMyanmar


                            • #15