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

  1. #21
    Hundreds protest outside Thai embassy over Koh Tao verdict
    December 26, 2015

    Hundreds of people gathered outside the Thai Embassy in Yangon on Friday to protest the sentencing of two Myanmar migrant workers to death for the 2014 murder of two British backpackers on the Thai resort island of Koh Tao, The Irrawaddy reported.

    The Koh Samui Provincial Court on Thursday found Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo guilty of the murder of David Miller and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge on Koh Tao in September last year, a verdict defence lawyers have vowed to appeal.

    The handling of the high-profile case by Thai police has drawn significant controversy, with the accused pair alleging they were tortured into a confession and the defense team contending key evidence was mishandled.

    Protesters, including Buddhist monks, congregated outside the Thai Embassy in Rangoon from around 10.30am, with numbers swelling over the next few hours.

    Police erected barbed wire barricades on Thursday ahead of a smaller demonstration and on Friday, the road in front of the embassy was blocked where protesters gathered with placards and chants demanding justice.

    The two accused migrants are both Arakanese and many ethnic Arakanese joined the protest on Friday.

  2. #22


    24 December 2015

    As is customary in Thailand, where trials have no jury, a judge delivered the verdict and sentence and said the DNA tests by investigators were carried out to accepted standards.

    A debate over DNA samples that police say link the two suspects to Witheridge’s body has been at the heart of the trial.

    Defense lawyers had asked to retest crucial DNA samples taken from the bodies but authorities issued conflicting statements on DNA evidence and, at one point, said that it had been used up.

    No independent re-testing of DNA evidence has been done in the case.

  3. #23
    Protesting death sentence against the two Myanmar migrants
    Saturday, 26 December 2015

    Crowds of protesters stood outside the Thai embassy in Yangon on Friday to protest the death sentence of two Myanmar migrant workers over the murders of two British tourists on the Thai island of Koh Samui in September 2014.






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  5. #25

    Photos: Thet Ko/Mizzima

  6. #26
    Koh Tao Defense Lawyer: ‘It is a Saddening Verdict’
    Friday, December 25, 2015

    Aung Myo Thant, a Burmese lawyer who has been working with the defense team on the Koh Tao murder case.
    (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

    RANGOON A Koh Samui Court on Thursday sentenced two Burmese migrants, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, to death over the killing of two British backpackers on a Thai resort island in September last year. The handling of the high-profile case by Thai police had attracted significant scrutiny amid allegations that the Burmese pair were tortured into a confession and that key evidence was mishandled. Aung Myo Thant, a Burmese lawyer who has been acting for the defendants, spoke with The Irrawaddy’s Kyaw Kha on Thursday after the verdict.

    Burmese migrants Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin were given the death penalty on Thursday. Legal experts have said the case was flawed. What’s your view?

    The court gave them separate penalties for seven charges. The maximum penalty for illegally entering Thailand is six months’ imprisonment and the two were given the maximum penalty—six months.

    Again, the maximum penalty for illegally living in Thailand is also six months’ imprisonment and they were given the maximum penalty for this charge too.

    I can’t understand why.

    I was told while I was acting for them that we would not win the case because Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao islands are mafia islands, but at that time I didn’t take it seriously.

    I can’t understand why they were given maximum penalties.

    The Thai Lawyers’ Council and the Thai Human Rights Commission have helped the two Burmese migrants together with your team. What did they say about the death sentence and what will the Burmese authorities do?

    We’ve reported it to the Burmese Ambassador to Thailand.

    We will appeal to Thailand’s Appeals Court in Bangkok.

    The Thai Lawyers’ Council has the same idea.

    We have copied the [court] order and we’ll write an appeal based on the court order and dossier and submit it to the Bangkok Appeals Court.

    What can you expect from doing so?

    If the appeal is granted, the penalty will not be more than ten years.

    I am 80 percent sure of this.

    Are you disappointed that they were given the death penalty though they seemed to have had a good chance of acquittal?

    I have no comment about the jurisdiction.

    But it saddens me… It is a saddening verdict.

    Though the Burmese government was helping the pair, they were given the maximum penalty even for lesser offences. Doesn’t this mean no regard was paid to the Burmese government?

    I have no comment about the jurisdiction of Thailand.

    After the two were sentenced despite the Burmese government’s special attention to the case, I think it would be better if the Burmese government could better assist Burmese migrant workers in Thailand.

    Because I have almost never seen the accused given the death penalty when there were no eyewitnesses.

    There are many cases of Burmese migrant workers being wrongly accused in Thailand. So, will the death penalty heighten the concerns of Burmese migrant workers?

    I see that much needs to be done for Burmese migrant workers to receive fair hearings.

  7. #27
    Myanmar Envoy Say’s Court Ruling Unacceptable in Koh Tao Death Sentence
    Sunday, December 27th, 2015

    A demonstrator holds a placard outside the Thai embassy during a protest against the death sentence of Myanmar labour workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun
    BANGKOK – Ambassador Win Maung Myanmar’s envoy to Thailand has called on Gen. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to review the Koh Tao murder case as protests against the decision intensified in Yangon and border areas yesterday.

    Ambassador Maung issued a statement clarifying that he did not accept the court ruling, in which two Myanmar nationals were sentenced to death, but instead respected it.

    “Even though we do not wish to meddle with the justice system of Thailand, we would like to request the prime minister for review and reconsideration of the case.”

    Protesters parade down the streets of Tachilek, Myanmar
    His call came as thousands of Myanmar demonstrators rallied at the Thai-Myanmar Friendship bridge crossing between the Myanmar town of Tachileik and Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

    Protesters gathered at border points and outside the Thai embassy in Yangon, with demands for the Thai government to set up a joint panel with Myanmar to re-investigate the murder, and threats to escalate the protests if there is no reply.

    A protester talks to fellow protesters as they protest in support of the two Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun in front of the Thai embassy
    The demonstrators called for justice for Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 22, who were sentenced to death on Thursday for the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and the killing of David Miller, 24, on the resort island of Koh Tao last year.

    The protesters believe the Myanmar migrants have been made scapegoats, which Thai police deny despite bungling DND evidence and allegations of tortured confessions.

    Many Myanmar migrant workers believe police pinned the murders on the two workers and manipulated DND evidence in order to cover up their bungling of the case.

    Many believe the murders were drawing too much International attention and police used Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun’s arrest as a way to calm international concerns and protect Thailand’s tourism trade.

    Myanmar demonstrators have also called for Thai authorities to seek a royal pardon for Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun.

    In Mae Sai, Thai Immigration and military officers closed the border to vehicles, while Myanmar police set up a barricade to stop the protesters on the Tachileik side.

    Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were yesterday transferred from the Samui prison in Surat Thani to the high-security Nakhon Si Thammarat Central Prison.
    The demonstrators handed over a letter outlining their demands to Thai officials, led by Mae Sai district chief Chutidet Meechan and Chiang Rai immigration chief Pol Col Sit Sirigangwalkul. The protest lasted about an hour before the demonstrators dispersed.

    Representing the protesters, Somphon Thaiyai said Thai police resorted to violence to extract confessions from the two Myanmar men and secure the guilty verdict and death sentence.

    He said the Thai government must form a joint panel between the two countries to re-investigate the case, with British authorities and international press being invited to observe the probe.

    Myanmar NGO 88 Generation Peace and Open Society also wrote to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha urging the case to be reviewed.

    Min Ko Naing sent the letter in the wake of Thursday’s verdict as protesters gathered outside Thailand’s embassy in Yangon.

    Protests continued in Yangon for a third day yesterday, with poet Aung Khun Sat saying they were there “to demand justice for the two Myanmar nationals who were unfairly sentenced to death”.

    “We feel that the court decision is unfair and that there was no transparency in the court hearing,” Aung Khun Sat said.

    Maykhalar, another protester at the scene, said, “We are here not to attack the embassy, just to protest the failed judiciary system of Thailand.”

    The protests have fueled fears among Thai shop owners along the border, who said they are worried the situation could get out of hand and lead to violence.

    The Lawyers Council of Thailand said yesterday it would meet with the Myanmar ambassador and relatives of the two men on Wednesday to discuss providing legal assistance that might help in any appeal.

  8. #28
    Law Council urges Myanmar people to have trust in Thai justice system
    December 27, 2015

    The Law Council of Thailand has urged the Myanmar people to have trust in the Thai justice system and assured that its volunteer lawyers would do their best to defend the two Myanmar defendants and to appeal their death verdict to the higher court.

    The two Myanmar migrant workers, Zaw Lin and Zaw Tun were found guilty for the murder of David Miller and Ms Hannah Witheridge on Koh Tao in September last year.

    The appeal and assurance were in a statement issued by the council on Saturday in response to protests by Myanmar people in Rangoon and elsewhere against the death sentence delivered by the Koh Samui provincial court against the two defendants for the murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao last year.

    The council said that the court’s verdict was not final and the council’s legal affairs committee had helped in the defence of the two defendants from the start in response to a request from the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok.

    The council is confident that all the facts that were presented to the court of first instance would be reviewed when the case is reviewed by the higher courts, said the statement.

    Courtesy of The Law Council of Thailand

    Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Don Paramudvinai said the ministry was awaiting a report about the protests from the Thai embassy in Rangoon. He said the ministry was assessing the situation in Myanmar and had adopted contingency plans in case the situation has worsened.

    However, the minister assured that the situation is under control and he believes that it will not spread out.

    He went on saying that the government was fully aware of the sentiments of the Myanmar people regarding the court’s verdict but would prefer to leave the matter with the judiciary to handle without government’s interference.

  9. #29
    Thai embassy in Yangon closes consular services for three days due to demonstration

    YANGON, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Thai Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, began a three-day closure of its consular services on Monday as prolonged demonstration had caused difficulties in access to the embassy compound.

    However, the embassy will continue to provide special visa service during the time to emergency case such as emergency medical treatment on the basis of humanitarian ground, said an announcement of the embassy's consular section.

    Hundreds of Myanmar people have been gathering outside the Thai Embassy here for the past several days protesting against the recent death sentence verdict of Thailand's Koh Samui provincial court on two Myanmar migrant workers.

    Similar demonstrations also broke out in other places outside Yangon.

    An appeal will be made against the death sentence within a month and coordination will be made with the Lawyers' Council of Thailand, Myanmar Embassy in Thailand and Myanmar's civil society organizations in Thailand before Jan. 11, government officials said.

    Meanwhile, a Thai diplomat in Yangon has promised to convey the demand of Myanmar protestors for appeal to the King of Thailand as soon as possible.

    The embassy has also alerted Thai nationals in Myanmar to watch out for safety.

  10. #30
    Thai PM defends verdict against Myanmar workers found guilty over tourist murders
    31 min ago

    BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand's Prime Minister lashed out on Monday (Dec 28) at protesters who took to the streets of Yangon over the weekend after a Thai court sentenced two Myanmar migrant workers to death for murdering two British tourists.

    Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said critics should respect the verdict and that Thailand's justice system would not bow to public pressure.

    "They have the right to appeal, right? Laws all over the world have this. Or should Thai law not have this? Is it the case that we should release all people when pressured?," a visibly angry Prayuth told reporters before boarding a plane to the southern province of Surat Thani.

    Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 22, were found guilty by a Thai court on Thursday (Dec 24) of killing Ms Hannah Witheridge, 23, and Mr David Miller, 24, whose battered bodies were found on a beach on the southern Thai holiday island of Koh Tao in 2014.

    The verdicts sparked anger in Myanmar where hundreds have held daily protests outside the Thai Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, calling for the two to be released.

    Protesters said the two men were used as scapegoats by the authorities in an effort to close the high-profile case.

    On Saturday (Dec 26), Myanmar's army chief called for Thailand to review the sentencing of the two men.

    The murders on Koh Tao, a laid-back divers' paradise, sullied Thailand's image as a tourist haven.

    A police investigation into the killings was riddled with allegations of police incompetence, torture and mishandling of evidence, but a judge dismissed allegations of torture, saying there was no evidence it took place.

    The court based its ruling on DNA evidence that it said linked Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun to the crime, including samples collected from Ms Witheridge's body.

    Both men were also found guilty of raping Ms Witheridge.

    On Saturday (Dec 26), the two were moved from Koh Samui prison, where they have been in custody for the past 14 months, to a high-security prison in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

    A lawyer for the men has said they would appeal within one month.

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