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Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin the two migrant workers charged with the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in Koh Tao last September were today found guilty in the Koh Samui Provincial Court and sentenced to death.
The accused initially confessed to the crimes but later recanted their confessions saying there were tortured into making false confessions. The men’s defense team believes they were used as scapegoats and argue that the men’s DNA not present on the alleged murder weapon, a garden hoe. They also claim that evidence has been mishandled by police. The prosecution however said DNA collected from cigarette butts close to the scene did match the accused.
The Miller family were in attendance at the court hearing, the family of Hannah Witheridge did not travel to Samui for the verdict. Speaking outside the court Mr. Millers brother said that initially he and his family were unsure if the police had the right men, however, after listening carefully to the evidence presented to the court on the days he and his family were in attendance he feels that justice has been served and urged activists who have protested the men’s innocence in the media and social media sites to respect the judgment of the court. The mothers of the accused, both widows, became hysterical when the verdict was read and both had to be helped from the court.
Migrant Workers Rights Network activist Andy Hall who led the defense team said “Defense team respects the court’s decision but moves to appeal verdict. Defense position is prosecution didn’t prove beyond doubt the main charges”.
The verdict will have come as a devastating blow to the accused who believed their ordeal was all but over. “we trust the justice system in Thailand” said Zaw Lin, “ we are very excited about going home and being reunited with our friends and families”.