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No Decision on Death Sentence Appeal in Koh Tao Murder Case

According to a report in the NMG news there is still no decision on the death sentence appeal in the Koh Tao murder case.

The Thai Supreme Court has yet to make a decision regarding an appeal submitted one year ago regarding the death sentence handed down to two Burmese migrant workers convicted of murder on the island of Koh Tao.
Ko Win Zaw Htun and Ko Zaw Lin were arrested in 2014 for the murder of British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller and sentenced to death more than a year later, despite allegations from the defense that evidence was not handled correctly and the men’s confessions were coerced.
U Aung Myo Thant, a defense lawyer for the pair, filed a final appeal in Thailand’s Supreme Court on March 23, 2018.
“There is no update. According to Thai law, the Thai court normally makes a decision within the six months after the plaintiffs and defense lawyers testify in court,” U Aung Myo Thant, who is also a legal representative with the Burmese embassy in Bangkok, told NMG, noting that it has been more than one year. “According to Thai law, the Thai court informs the plaintiff and defendant before a decision is made, and the sentence is decided upon 14 days after this notification. Currently, we haven’t received any notification.”
The Thai government’s legal team ordered the defendants to file their final appeal by October 22, 2017, but the their lawyer requested a six-month extension, later submitting the appeal in March. They have been awaiting the notification of a decision since that time.
“This case should not be delayed. Thailand is busy with general elections. I think that is why,” U Aung Myo Thant said.
The defense team sent a 319-page document arguing Ko Win Zaw Htun and Ko Zaw Lin’s innocence to the Thai Supreme Court through the court in Koh Samui on August 21, 2017.
“We had 56 sessions at the court within one-and-a-half years. These children didn’t commit any crime. We denied it in the hearings at the court. There was no DNA from them found on pickaxe, which was submitted as evidence as the weapon used in the murders,” U Aung Myo Thant explained. “Finally, I believe our children will be released,” he added.
If the Supreme Court rejects the final appeal, the defense team is reportedly planning to ask for a royal pardon from H.M. the King of Thailand.

Ian Yarwood, a solicitor in Perth said in response

The focus of the defence lawyers including the Myanmar lawyer quoted in this article is not optimal.

Yes, it is worth noting that the defendants’ DNA was not found on a hoe that appeared to be one of the murder weapons. 

The feature of the case that is far more important was that there was absolutely no reliable evidence that the defendants’ DNA was on either victim. The “evidence” that the police and prosecution put forward was bogus. 

It was a scrap of paper prepared by a police laboratory that lacked the correct accreditation at the material time. Internationally accepted procedures for the collection and preservation of original samples were completely ignored. There was no chain of custody. The defence had no access to original materials. There was no statistical analysis of the samples. The report submitted was an unendorsed report, which should never have been tendered as evidence and which (with the utmost respect) the court erred in accepting. 

Ian Yarwood 
Barrister & Solicitor

Ian Yarwood



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