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

  1. #11
    Koh Tao Murders: Myanmar Journalists Urge Thai Press to ‘Reveal the Truth’
    Teeranai Charuvastra
    26 December 2015


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

    BANGKOK — The Myanmar Journalists Association is urging its Thai counterpart to work together and “reveal the truth” behind the conviction of two Myanmar men for the killings of two British backpackers in southern Thailand last year.

    In its open letter addressed to the Thai Journalist Association, the Myanmar media group said justice will prevail if media from the two nations work together in the coverage of the case, which has drawn intense scrutiny from the public.

    “We do believe that our close cooperation in seeking justice after revealing the truth behind this controversial case will further promote the existing friendship not only between our two journalist associations but also between the peoples of our two countries,” the statement read, without mentioning any specifics.

    On Thursday Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, two Myanmar men who were bar workers on Tao island, were found guilty of killing British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on Sept. 15, 2014. They were also convicted of raping Witheridge.

    For their alleged crimes, the two men were sentenced to death.

    The verdict sparked outrage on Myanmar social media and prompted protests in front of the Thai Embassy in Yangon. The Embassy in turn issued a warning for all Thais in Myanmar to be alert of the ongoing development.

    The following is the full open letter published by the Myanmar Journalist Association:

    As journalists our responsibility is to seek truth and justice.

    We, the Myanmar journalists, would never forget the warm assistance that you provided during our dark hours of flash floods all over our country during the recent months.

    MJA and TJA worked together to lend a helping hand to the flood victims. We shall always be working together in the same spirit.
    Now is the time that calls for similar cooperation between us.

    Let’s work together for the benefits of our peoples and for our beloved countries so that justice prevails. Let’s show the world that Myanmar and Thai journalists will fight together for justice, human rights and democratic values.

    We do believe that our close cooperation in seeking justice after revealing the truth behind this controversial case will further promote the existing friendship not only between our two journalist associations but also between the peoples of our two countries.

    Myanmar Journalist Association
    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.]

    Police investigation into the killings of Miller and Witheridge has been mired in controversy from the start. These shortcomings include the police’s failure to close down the ferry port to prevent potential suspects from fleeing the island, wild and contradictory speculation over the motives behind the killing, and a remark by a high-ranking police officer who said the perpetrators “could not have been Thais.”

    After Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were arrested and identified as the killers, nearly every mainstream news agency in Thailand reported about the case by taking the police statement at face value. The two defendants were repeatedly called “Koh Tao murderers” by much of the Thai press.

    However, many on social media accused police of “scapegoating” Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo as a cover-up effort ordered by influential families on Tao island. Police have vehemently denied the allegation.

    On Thursday, the court on Samui island ruled that DNA samples collected from the crime scene and from Witheridge’s body clearly implicated Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo in the double murder, and subsequently sentenced both men to death.

    Miller’s family was among the first to publicly endorse the verdict. Reading a statement outside the courthouse on Thursday, Miller’s brother, Michael Miller, said he believed the evidence against the two defendants was overwhelming.

    The defense team argued that the police’s DNA test procedure was flawed, and said it will file an appeal within 30 days.

    On Saturday morning, security officers moved Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo from Samui provincial prison to another prison on the mainland, in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. They are expected to remain on death row throughout the appeal.

    Nakhon Chompuchat, head of the defense lawyer team, said yesterday he was not told when the two defendants would be moved.

    “The officers feared that if we knew the schedule, we might try to snatch the suspects on the way,” Nakhon said, with a laugh.

    khaosodenglish.com

  2. #12
    Response to the open letter from the MJA to the TJA

    วันเสาร์ที่ 26 ธันวาคม 2015 เวลา 14:04 น.
    pressfreedom
    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

    tja.or.th

  3. #13
    Myanmar's army chief asks Thailand to review death sentence for pair over murder of 2 Britons
    4 hours ago

    37044510_-_26_12_2015_-_myanmar_thailand_protest.jpg
    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.

    straitstimes.com

  4. #14
    Thai police defend investigation into Britons' murder after Burmese protests
    Sunday 27 Decemer 2015

    Police say investigation into murder of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller was ‘of a standard that is acceptable’, after two men are sentenced to death

    4852.jpg
    Protesters outside the Thai embassy in Yangon on Saturday.

    Photograph: Phyo Mg Mg/AFP/Getty Images

    Police in Thailand have defended their investigation into the 2014 murder of two British tourists after a court sentenced two Burmese men to death for the killings.

    There were protests outside the Thai embassy in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, and in towns around Thailand over the weekend calling for the release of the two convicts, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun. Supporters say the pair were used as scapegoats by authorities in an effort to close the high-profile case.

    The murder of backpackers Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, on the island of Koh Tao in September 2014 dented Thailand’s image as a tourist haven and raised questions about police competency.

    The police investigation was mired in controversy, including allegations of incompetence, torture and mishandling of crucial DNA evidence. During the trial, a judge dismissed allegations of torture, saying there was no evidence it took place.

    On Sunday the Thai police spokesman Dejnarong Suthicharnbancha said: “I would like to reassure that the investigation process of police was transparent and of a standard that is acceptable.”

    The deputy police spokesman Piyaphand Pingmuang said: “We cannot undo the investigation.” He asked Thai and Burmese nationals not to join demonstrations against the verdict.

    “Some groups are trying to make this a political matter and about diplomatic ties, but there are no issues because Thailand has communicated with the Myanmar government to create understanding on this matter,” Piyaphand said.

    In a new year message to the Thai defence minister, General Prawit Wongsuwan, Myanmar’s commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, requested that evidence in the case be reviewed. “It is more important that an innocent person should not be convicted rather than a guilty person not be punished,” he said.

    Miller’s family have defended the work of the Thai police, saying a “methodical and thorough” investigation was conducted.

    theguardian.com

  5. #15
    “It is more important that an innocent person should not be convicted rather than a guilty person not be punished,” he said.

    Myanmar’s commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing

  6. #16
    Police suspect hidden agenda behind Koh Tao protests
    27/12/2015

    Police told a press conference on Sunday morning that protests against the death sentences handed down in the Koh Tao murders might be politically motivated and have ill intentions.

    Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan Pingmuang said there were criminal prosecutions in 126 murder cases involving Myanmar people in Thailand in the past year, but protests in the Koh Tao case were suspicious.

    He was referring to protests in Myanmar in the past few days in relation to the case in which two Myanmar migrant workers were given the death sentence for the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao island in Surat Thani province in September last year.

    Some groups took the case of the individuals as an opportunity and general people should not fall victim to the movement or let the issue be politicised, Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan said. He warned that the issue could have an impact on international relations.

    He insisted on there being a standard investigation into the murder, saying that as the case involved Myanmar and British people, police had been checked from the start of their investigation by lawyers, prosecutors, foreign authorities and then the court.

    Pol Col Prachum Ruangthong, chief of the Koh Phangan police who supervise Koh Tao, said that as the case involved Myanmar and British people and wrongdoers were liable to death sentences, the police investigation had been checked carefully.

    The local court of Koh Samui in Surat Thani paid no attention to the initial confession of the two Myanmar men but it focused only on evidence before making the ruling, Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan said. Both men denied all charges during court trial.

    He also said that the ruling resulted only from the Court of First Instance and concerned parties should let the justice system handle the case all the way.

    Senior police officers supervising the locality of the murders and those responsible for scientific crime investigation assured in the press conference that investigation, scientific examination including that on DNA profiles of concerned people, and checks and balances throughout police investigation were transparent and accountable, met international standard and were proved in the court.

    The Thai Foreign Ministry said on its website on Sunday that Myanmar's foreign ministry had denied reports that people protesting the Koh Tao ruling had been “instigated” into taking to the streets. It had found no evidence to support the claim.

    Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the Courts of Justice was arranging the translation of the ruling into English so that the international community could understand it.

    He would also suggest that the ruling be translated into Burmese to create a better understanding.

    bangkokpost.com

  7. #17
    There definately is an adgenda and it is not hidden .....................

    JUSTICE is the name .

  8. #18
    Senior police officers supervising the locality of the murders and those responsible for scientific crime investigation assured in the press conference that investigation, scientific examination including that on DNA profiles of concerned people, and checks and balances throughout police investigation were transparent and accountable, met international standard and were proved in the court.

    really , how about this then ?

    Pornthip Rojanasunand, the head of Thailand's forensics institute, told the Koh Samui court that DNA found on the alleged murder weapon does not match that of the two accused Burmese men.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...h-accused.html

  9. #19
    Myanmar closes border pass
    27/12/2015

    Myanmar authorities on Sunday closed the Phaya Tong Su border checkpoint opposite the Three Pagodas pass in Thailand's Kanchanaburi province, a regional army commander said.

    Maj Gen Thammanoon Withee, commander of the 9th Infantry Division supervising Kanchanaburi and nearby provinces, said Myanmar authorities did not allow Thai people and tourists to cross the border to the Phaya Tong Su side while Thai authorities opened their Three Pagodas pass as usual.

    He said he had received reports that Myanmar people in Phaya Tong Su planned to stage three days of symbolic protests from Dec 28 over the death sentences handed down in the Koh Tao murder case.

    He said soldiers would meet Myanmar workers on the Thai side on Monday to explain the judicial process concerning the murder case.

    He was referring to the death sentences on two Myanmar migrant workers found guilty of murdering two British tourists on Koh Tao island in southern Thailand in September last year.

    The death penalty was the sentence of the Court of First Instance only and concerned people should be calm because the case could undergo trial at the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court in the future, Maj Gen Thammanoon said.

    He visited soldiers securing the Three Pagodas pass in Kanchanaburi's Sangkhla Buri district on Sunday.

    Pakorn Kanwallee, chief of Sangkhla Buri district, said tourism and business operations in the border district remained lively as vast numbers of tourists continued to arrive for the New Year holiday.

    Local hotels were fully occupied, there had been no hotel reservations cancelled, and Myanmar workers were returning to their factories in Sangkhla Buri, he said.

    Myanmar authorities were not letting Thai tourists cross the border into Phaya Tong Su because of safety reasons, while Thai and foreign tourists were happily shopping near the Three Pagodas Pass, he said.

    Myanmar soldiers had promised to control future demonstrations and prevent protesters from entering Thai territory, the district chief said.

    bangkokpost.com

  10. #20
    Koh Tao Murders: Protest at Thai - Myanmar Border [PHOTOS]
    Teeranai Charuvastra
    26 December 2015


    Demonstrators near Tachilek Thai - Myanmar border crossing on Dec. 26 demand release of Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo.

    CHIANG RAI — Hundreds of Myanmar citizens marched near the Thai - Myanmar border today to vent their anger at the recent death penalty handed to two Myanmar men found guilty of murders in southern Thailand last year.

    The protest took place on the Myanmar side of the Tachilek border crossing in Chiang Rai province. Around 2,000 people are believed to have joined the demonstration, which prompted Thai authorities to stop vehicles coming and leaving at the checkpoint for several hours.





    Banners held by the protesters demand the release of Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, two Myanmar migrant workers sentenced to death by a Thai court Thursday for allegedly killing British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on Tao island in September 2014.



    The demonstrators believe Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo are innocent. Many banners made a plea for His Majesty the King to grant the two men a royal pardon.

    “We request to Long Live the King of Thailand. Please save our brothers,” one banner reads.

    A pair of protesters was also seen ‘cosplaying’ as Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo when they were paraded to reporters by Thai police in October 2014.



    No vehicle was allowed to enter or leave the Thai border checkpoint during the protest, but there was no other disruption to the border crossing.



    The demonstration eventually came to a peaceful end in the afternoon after two Thai officials met with the protest leaders and received their open letter calling on the Thai court to dismiss the case. The Thai officials promised they would deliver the letter to the judicial authorities.

    Similar protests were also reported outside the Thai Embassy in Myanmar today and and outside the Thai Embassy in Japan yesterday.

    khaosodenglish.com

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