Two Burmese men have been convicted of the murder of two British tourists on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand.
Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo have been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Norfolk, and the murder of Leeds University student David Miller, 24, from Jersey in September 2014.
Witheridge and Miller were attacked on a beach. Witheridge was raped and beaten to death, whilst Miller was struck on the head before being left to drown in the surf.
Lin and Phyo, both of whom were bar workers, have said they had been tortured and forced to confess to the crimes during investigation.
Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, a prominent forensic scientist in Thailand, criticised the investigation, stating that evidence had been “mishandled”. When the defence asked for an independent re-test of evidence, officers failed to comply. One officer suggested evidence had been destroyed.
In response to the verdict, Amnesty International have called for an independent investigation into allegations that Lin and Phyo were tortured, as well as a re-trial. Human Rights Watch described the verdict as “profoundly disturbing”, whilst Reprieve said the trial process had been “flawed and unfair”.
Outside court, Miller’s family said in a statement “David always stood up for justice and justice is what has been delivered today. We came to realise that the police investigation and the forensic work performed was not the so-called shambles it was made out to be […]Having listened carefully to all the evidence and despite what their lawyers say, it is our opinion that the evidence against Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin is absolutely overwhelming.”
Andy Hall, a migrants’ rights activist from Britain who worked for the defence during the trial, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “This investigation was a shambles from the beginning.
The defence team have had access to all the information in this case in order to defend the accused, and the information that we saw was not information that complied with international standards.
It was information that was full of holes, full of errors. On that basis we believe that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin were guilty of these horrific crimes.”