Burmese men sentenced to death for murders of British couple

Two Burmese workers face death penalty for killing British pair in Koh Tao, Thailand.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun.

Two Burmese workers, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun have been found guilty and sentenced to death of murdering a British tourist couple - David Miller, 24 and Hannah Witheridge, 23 - on a beach in Thailand last year. Witheridge had also been raped during the attack. 

The case was mired in controversy and a dispute over DNA testing. Following pressure to solve the case, two workers from Myanmar were arrested and charged with the murders, and the two confessed to the crimes. DNA evidence from both suspects was matched with the DNA which was found on Witheridge’s body.

Miller was struck by a single blow and left to drown in shallow surf while Witheridge was raped and then bludgeoned to death with a garden hoe.

"He [David] was hacked down from behind, dragged into the sea and left to die. That will live with us forever. What happened to Hannah Witheridge is unspeakable," David's brother said.

"David always stood up for justice and justice is what has been delivered today," he added, endorsing the work of the Thai police and the reliability of the forensic evidence.

Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. (AFP)

The court's verdict led to allegations of police incompetence, mishandling of evidence and DNA tests. About 10 people stood outside of the Thai embassy building in Yangon and held placards, demanded the release of the accused.

The mother of one of the defendants broke down in tears as the judge passed the sentence. Defence lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat said an appeal would be filed within a month.

Zaw Htay, a senior official of the president's office, said Myanmar would explore all legal and diplomatic means and "leave no stone unturned" to secure the release of "two innocent men."

Witheridge's family said the trial had been distressing.

"We found listening to proceedings very challenging and we have had to endure a lot of painful and confusing information," the family said in a statement.

"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."

TRTWorld and agencies