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Family urges Thai authorities to show leniency

Family urges Thai authorities to show leniency

Thursday 02 March 2017

Family urges Thai authorities to show leniency

Thursday 02 March 2017

The family of a Jersey man who was murdered in Thailand have urged the authorities not to go ahead with the death sentences on two men convicted of killing him.

The Thai Court of Appeal has now upheld the guilty verdict for Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo for the murder of David Miller.

The pair had been convicted of murdering Mr Miller, and his friend Hannah Witheridge from Norfolk, on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Tao in September 2014. 

Miss Witheridge had been raped before she was killed, while Mr Miller had been hit over the head with a garden hoe, before being left to drown in the sea.

The Burmese pair denied they had committed the crimes, claiming that they had only initially confessed to Police after being tortured - their lawyers also challenged DNA evidence. But they were both found guilty in December 2015 and sentenced to death. 

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal in Thailand upheld that original verdict, meaning the defendants' lawyers now have 30 days to decide whether to carry on their appeal to their last option, the Thai Supreme Court.

 In a statement released today by David's father, Ian, the family commented: 

"We remain confident that this is the correct decision. We hope that the Thai authorities will show leniency in relation to the death sentence. We have always said that we did not want innocent men sentenced nor guilty parties acquitted on a technicality. In the end we believe that the evidence is overwhelming and we feel that justice has been done.

"Both Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo admitted in court to being at the crime scene on the night, just feet from where the murder weapon was (and afterwards replaced) and metres from where the murders took place. They claim they heard and saw nothing in the moonlight. Our own visits to the beach on Koh Tao under a similar moon make this claim impossible for us to believe.

"Upon detention by the police, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were held and initially interrogated in separate locations with multiple witnesses testifying that they saw no mishandling nor evidenced any signs of torture. Their claims of torture were never corroborated and Zaw Lin’s explanation in court of why he had no marks of the beating he described was extraordinary.  He claimed that these marks were removed by a police medication, rubbed on him after the torture was finished.

"We now believe that it was simply press and internet attention in the week following the crime reconstruction that induced these guilty men to change their admissions of guilt to pleas of not-guilty. The claims of torture appear to have been merely to explain the change of plea.

"But that does not change the evidence. In this instance we are confident that the Thai police have found the killers. The Thai court process has been visibly very fair and effective. The appeal process has now confirmed their guilt.

"We have lost our son David forever and the Witheridge family will have been similarly devastated by this crime. There is not a day that goes by in our home without pain, feelings of loss and utter sadness.

"We are proud of our son and what he achieved in his short life. We miss him terribly and miss his hugs, beaming smiles and infectious enthusiasm. His life was cruelly destroyed."

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