BANGKOK – Two Myanmar migrants were sentenced on Thursday in Thailand for the murder of two British backpackers –found dead on a beach in southern Thailand in September last year. It appears that the murder became relevant when people claimed it could damage the image of the tourism industry in the country.
Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, both 22, were accused of raping and then murdering Hannah Witheridge, 23, and killing David Miller, 24, by the the Samui Provincial Court. The two migrants denied the accusations. However, the court gave them death penalty, even when it was said the men were intimidated to state a confession and that DNA evidence was not conclusive.
There is some discussion about the case, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the verdict was profoundly disturbing because defendants had said police tortured the men and those accusations were never investigated. The international non-governmental organization also said questionable DNA evidence that linked them to the crime was never analyzed in deep. HRW requested a ‘transparent’ revision of the verdict.
“In a trial where torture allegations by the two accused were left uninvestigated and DNA evidence was called into question by Thailand’s most prominent forensic pathologist, both the verdict and these death sentences are profoundly disturbing,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.
The defense lawyer of Win Zaw Htun and Zan Lin said both men planned to appeal. Results from the investigation would appear to show that semen of both men was found inside the British Witheridge, the court said in its ruling the evidence from the crime scene and the witnesses ‘confirmed without any doubt’ what Htun and Lin had done.
Miller’s family declared they had doubts about the investigation but then they were overwhelmed when the evidence was found. Michael Miller, the brother of David Miller said justice had been delivered and affirmed the family respected the court and its decision completely. He then added their lives had been changed forever and said that David was irreplaceable to them.
It appears the case will continue to cause controversy, a well-known forensics scientist from Thailand, Porntip Rojanasunand, testified that she tested the hoe which is supposed to be the murder weapon, and she found DNA from two males, but not from the suspects.
According to the NYPost, approximately 2.5 million people from Myanmar work in Thailand as domestic servants or in constructions, fisheries or the garment sector, and sourcers seem to suggest migrants are not treated in the same way as Thai citizens by authorities.
Source: NY Post