Supreme Court upholds death sentences for 2014 Koh Tao murders

Supreme Court upholds death sentences for 2014 Koh Tao murders

Zaw Lin (left) and Win Zaw Htun arrive at the Provincial Court in Nonthaburi province to hear the Supreme Court's decision on Thursday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Zaw Lin (left) and Win Zaw Htun arrive at the Provincial Court in Nonthaburi province to hear the Supreme Court's decision on Thursday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentences passed by the Criminal and Appeal courts for two Myanmar nationals convicted of the September 2014 murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao.

The highest court on Thursday passed final judgement on Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, ruling that all the evidence, including DNA samples and witness statements, proved their crime. The court rejected the argument that police had fabricated evidence and arrested them as scapegoats.

The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence confirmed last year by the Appeal Court, which upheld the Samui Provincial Court's ruling in 2015.

Lawyers for the two defendants argued against the reliability of forensic evidence and the legality of the investigation process.

Chief defence counsel Nakhon Chompuchat said after the ruling of the Appeal Court last year that they would argue before the Supreme Court that the forensic procedures and autopsy results which confirmed DNA from the two men matched samples collected from Witheridge’s body were unreliable.

The pair have been held at Bang Kwang Prison in Nonthaburi since their conviction. They were taken to  Nonthaburi Provincial Court, which is near the prison, to hear the final ruling on Thursday. It was read out at the Criminal Court and broadcast inside the court in Nonthaburi.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were sentenced for the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and the murder of David Miller, 24, on Koh Tao island, in the Gulf of Thailand off the Surat Thani mainland, on Sept 15, 2014.

They were also convicted of the theft of an iPhone from one of the victims. The mobile phone was found discarded near a hotel on the island by police and used as evidence against them.



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