Mothers of Burmese migrants facing death penalty for murder of Brit backpackers appeal to Thai king to spare their lives

Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were killed on the resort island of Koh Tao in 2014 (Pictures: PA)

The mothers of two Burmese migrants sentenced to death for murdering two British tourists in Thailand in 2014 have pleaded with the Thai king to spare their lives.

Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo are facing the death penalty for the murders of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge, whose battered bodies were found on a beach on the island of Koh Tao.

Lin and Phyo denied killing Mr Miller and raping and killing Miss Witheridge and later lost an appeal to have their conviction quashed.

Their mothers, accompanied by lawyers and a senior diplomat from Burma’s embassy in Thailand, have now submitted an official petition for clemency to the Thai King.

The mothers of Burmese migrants Zaw Lin (C) and Wai Phyo (L) have pleaded for their lives to be spared (Pictuure: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/Files)

Miss Witheridge, 23, from Norfolk, and Mr Miller, 24, from Jersey, had arrived in Thailand separately and met at the hotel where they were both staying.

Their killers, who were both 22 at the time, were employed as service workers on the island, which is famous for is diving locations.


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The verdicts in their trial were controversial because of allegations that police mishandled evidence and beat the suspects into making confessions.

Lawyers for the two men claim evidence used against them was mishandled and they made confessions under duress that they later retracted.

Lawyers for the two migrants claim evidence in their case was mishandled (Picture: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)

During the trial, a Thai forensics expert testified that the DNA evidence which formed a major element of the prosecution's case did not link the defendants to the scene and that police had failed to properly control the crime scene and mishandled the DNA evidence.

But a court rejected the arguments and in December 2015 convicted both defendants of murder, sentencing them to death.

Human Rights Watch at the time called the verdict "profoundly disturbing", citing the defendants' accusations of police torture that were never investigated and questionable DNA evidence linking them to the crime.

Despite appeals, Thailand's Supreme Court has upheld the men’s convictions.

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