Myanmar workers convicted of Koh Tao murders hold out hope for clemency

Zaw Lin, at center, and Win Zaw Tun, at right, leave the court on Aug. 29, 2019, in Nonthaburi province after the verdict regarding their conviction for murdering two British backpackers on the holiday island of Koh Tao. Photo: Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
Zaw Lin, at center, and Win Zaw Tun, at right, leave the court on Aug. 29, 2019, in Nonthaburi province after the verdict regarding their conviction for murdering two British backpackers on the holiday island of Koh Tao. Photo: Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

Update Dec. 9: Messages from another of the convicted pair’s lawyers Tuesday indicated they would not receive further royal clemency at this time because rape and murder convictions were ineligible.

The lawyer for two Myanmar men originally sentenced to die for the murders of two British backpackers said today he is still hopeful they were granted clemency among the king’s many recent pardons and commutations.

Though Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun had their sentences commuted to life earlier this year, defense attorney Nakhon Chompuchat told Coconuts Bangkok that he is still awaiting word on whether they were among the 200,000 convicts to win shortened sentences or 30,000 fully pardoned by King Vajiralongkorn on Sunday in honor of his late father’s birthday.

“I saw their conditions and, at first glance, they are fit to receive more royal clemency,” Nakhon said. “I will send a letter to the Corrections Department for clarity whether they actually got it. Myanmar officials are waiting for a more official source’s answer on this too.”

Attempts to reach the Corrections Department were unsuccessful today.

On Saturday, a disgraced news personality, former Redshirt movement leaders were among more than a quarter million people granted pardons or commutations. 

A full list of those who received clemency has yet to be made widely available.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were convicted in 2015 of murdering 24-year-old David Miller and 23-year-old Hannah Witheridge, whom they were also convicted of raping. In August, the king previously commuted their sentences to life for the birthday of Queen Mother Sirikit.

Their original conviction, which they failed to overturn on subsequent appeals, came after the court was presented significant testimony that investigators mishandled evidence in the case and allegations the men, then in their 20s, were tortured into confessing.

Perception of the case as badly bungled led to widely held opinions that the men were scapegoats.

Nakhon, their lawyer, said he hopes the pair get their sentences further reduced.

Their supporters here and at home hope that reduced sentences could see them eventually transferred to custody in Myanmar, or even freed.

Related

Mothers of Myanmar men sentenced to die for Koh Tao murders beg for clemency

Myanmar pair await final appeal ruling over Brit killings in Thailand

Final Judgment: Thai Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Myanmar men over Brit killings

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Koh Tao murder victims’ final night retold via CCTV at trial

Koh Tao murders: Influential island figure vows to clear his son’s name

Universal doubts cloud ‘perfect’ Koh Tao murder investigation

Police claim Myanmar worker confesses to Koh Tao murders

Police blame ‘jealous’ friend for David and Hannah murders on Koh Tao

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