No Decision on Death Sentence Appeal in Koh Tao Murder Case

‘These children didn’t commit any crime,’ says the lawyer for the two convicted Burmese migrant workers.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

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.