2 Sentenced to Death for Backpacker Murders

Rights groups say Thailand verdict is disturbing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2015 2:58 AM CST
2 Sentenced to Death for Backpacker Murders
Burmese migrants Win Zaw Htun, front, and Zaw Lin, rear, both 22, arrive at court in Koh Samui, Thailand, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Two bar workers from Burma have been sentenced to death for the gruesome backpacker murders that shocked Thailand last year. Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, who are both 22 years old, were found guilty on Thursday of murdering British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge, the Telegraph reports. They were also found guilty of robbing the pair, whose bodies were discovered on a beach on the island of Koh Tao, and of raping Witheridge. Lawyers say they plan to appeal the verdict, which Human Rights Watch calls "profoundly disturbing" in light of allegations of police torture and questions surrounding the DNA evidence that was used to convict the two men, reports the AP.

Family members who traveled from Britain for the trial say they believe that justice has been served and that Thai police carried out a thorough investigation. "David was hacked from behind, dragged into the sea, and left to die. That will live with us forever," his brother, Michael, said outside the court, per the Guardian. "What happened to Hannah Witheridge is unspeakable," he added. "David always stood up for justice, and justice is what has been delivered today. We came to realize that the police investigation and the forensic work performed was not the so-called shambles it was made out to be." (After the murders, Thai authorities fearing for the tourism industry discussed issuing tracking devices to tourists.)

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