Two migrant workers convicted of raping and murdering a British backpacker and leaving her friend to drown after beating him will be executed, a court has ruled.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, who were found guilty of killing David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, have lost an appeal against the death sentence.
The British tourists’ battered bodies were found on a beach on the southern diving resort of Koh Tao, in Thailand, in September 2015.
The workers said Thai police tortured them into confessing to the killing, and the conviction sparked widespread protests in their homeland.
Hannah Witheridge was raped and murdered in Koh Tao, Thailand, while David Miller suffered a blow to the head and was left to drown
Their original conviction in December 2015 was mired in controversy, with the defence accusing police of bungling their investigation from the outset after local detectives came under huge pressure to solve a case that risked damaging the country’s vital tourism sector.
Investigators were accused of failing to properly collect and preserve DNA samples and declining to test key pieces of evidence, such as Witheridge’s clothes, or allow independent examination of the samples.
But a higher court threw out the defence’s appeal.
‘The Appeals Court upheld the Criminal Court’s ruling against the two Myanmar suspects,’ Theerawut Phamhun, deputy provincial prosecutor of Surat Thani province, told AFP.
He said the appeal judges ruled the evidence investigation ‘were up to standard’ and that DNA found at the scene matched the suspects.
The defence now have 30 days to appeal to Thailand’s Supreme Court, the final court of appeal.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun’s defence lawyer did not pick up his phone Wednesday.
While Thailand keeps the death penalty on its books it is rarely carried out.
Post-mortem examinations showed that both had suffered severe head wounds.
Prosecutors said DNA evidence collected from cigarette butts, a condom and the bodies of the victims, linked Lin and Phyo to the killings.
But lawyers representing the pair said DNA samples from the alleged murder weapon – a garden hoe – did not match that of the two men and their confessions were a result of torture in the context of ‘systematic abuse’ of migrants on Koh Tao.