BANGKOK, Two Burmese men were found guilty and were sentenced to death on Thursday for killing two British tourists who were visiting Thailand.
Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, migrant workers from Myanmar working at a bar in Thailand, were convicted in the September 2014 killings of Hannah Witheridge, 23, who was also raped, and David Miller, 24. The victim’s bodies were found on a Koh Tao island beach.
Lin and Phyo will appeal. They retracted their initial confessions, stating police tortured them. The investigation was criticized after several procedural failings were brought to light, such as how local police failed to seal off a crime scene and also failed to test Witheridge’s clothes or the alleged murder weapon for DNA.
But prosecutors said DNA evidence collected from cigarette butts, a condom and the bodies of the victims pointed to Lin and Phyo as the perpetrators.
“We believe the result today represents justice for David and Hannah,” Miller’s brother, Michael, said after the court sentencing in the Thai city of Koh Samui. “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.”
Witheridge’s family did not travel to the final court sentencing, but released a statement.
“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,” Witheridge’s family wrote. “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.”