Myanmar duo receive death sentence for the murder of two British backpackers in Thailand

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Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin (R) and Win Zaw Htun (L) arrive at the Koh Samui Provincial Court, in Koh Samui, Thailand, July 8, 2015. Two Myanmar men accused of murdering two British holidaymakers David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, in Thailand will go on trial on Wednesday in a case that caused outrage in Britain and raised questions about the competence of the Thai police and the treatment of migrant labourers. Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

Two migrant workers from Myanmar were found guilty of the 2014 murder of two British backpackers and were sentenced to death on Thursday by Thai court. The British duo were found dead on a beach on Thailand’s Koh Tao island in September 2014.

British backpacker David Miller was killed while Hannah Witheridge, 23, was rape and murdered in 2014 on the resort island in southern Thailand. Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun have been found guilty of the crime and are facing execution in Thailand.

The ruling was delivered by a panel of three judges on Thursday on the neighbouring island of Koh Samui.

"Both defendants are guilty of murder for which the penalty is the death sentence," one of the judges told the court. The judge also noted that the duo were also "found guilty of rape and conspiracy to hide the crime".

The panel noted that the DNA evidence that connected the duo with the murder and rape are of international standards. The verdict was delayed from October to allow the defence some extra time. The Guardian reported that an appeal would be made but the process can take months.

Michael Miller, David’s brother, gave a statement outside the court with father Ian and mother Sue by his side.

“David was hacked from behind, dragged into the sea, and left to die. That will live with us forever,” he said.  “What happened to Hannah Witheridge is unspeakable. We believe that the result today represents justice for David and Hannah. Ultimately, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo obtained the best possible representation in court by a team of seven lawyers.”

The Witheridge family was in UK at the time of the verdict but visited the Thai court during the summer to observe the legal process. The defendants said that they have been coerced to sign a confession, but the judges on Thursday said there was no evidence that either of the convicts has been tortured.

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