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Myanmar to send legal help for two in Thailand jail

Migrant workers condemned to death for murders of British backpackers lose appeal, head to Supreme Court

Myanmar to send legal help for two in Thailand jail

Myanmar nationals Zaw Lin (left) and Win Zaw Tun (centre right) are escorted out of the Koh Samui provincial court following their death sentence in Koh Samui on December 24, 2015. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

March 17, 2017

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Myanmar is sending a special legal team to file a second appeal of the verdict against two migrant workers sentenced to death in Thailand for the 2014 murder of a British couple at a Thai resort, their lawyer said March 15.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, both in their early 20s, were sentenced to death on Dec. 24, 2015, after being found guilty of the murder of British backpacker David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of his companion Hannah Witheridge, 23, on the resort island of Koh Tao in September 2014.

Thailand’s Appeal Court rejected the first appeal on Feb. 23, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

The death sentences can be revoked under an amnesty or be commuted to a minimum punishment because the highest court in Thailand cannot impose capital punishment without solid evidence, their lawyer Aung Myo Thant told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

"The state is giving us full support," he said. "It is sending a legal advisory team to provide assistance for when the new appeal is submitted to Thailand’s highest court. Right now, we are translating the documents from the … Appeal Court from Thai into the Burmese language."

A Thai Foreign Office official said the Myanmar legal team must submit new facts in its appeal, Aung Myo said, adding that those working on the case are studying a 4,000-page report about the crime.

One of the questionable facts in the case is the principal murder weapon, which court documents list as a hoe, he said.

"But the DNA of the two suspects was not found on that hoe,” he said, adding that a Thai doctor told the court that DNA could be found if a person holds something for just five seconds. 

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