Delays continue to beset defendants in appeal of Koh Tao murder conviction

Delays continue to beset defendants in appeal of Koh Tao murder conviction

Thai prosecutors have continued efforts to delay their filing of a rebuttal to an appeal submitted by the legal team of two Burmese defendants in a high-profile, trans-national murder case that has dragged on for more than three years.

The prosecutorial team has requested six extensions as of 22 February, the latest coming last week. The Burmese defendants Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun are currently being held at a prison in Bangkok, accused of the murder of two British backpackers on the Thai island of Koh Tao in September 2014.

Aung Myo Thant, a legal adviser at the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok, told DVB: “We, the defendants’ legal team, have submitted the appeal. Thailand’s supreme court has been awaiting a response to the appeal from the prosecution team in order to hand down a verdict.

“We have submitted a comprehensive 319-page appeal, which has eight main points. The prosecution team seems to be having difficulty filing their rebuttal to the appeal; they have asked six times to postpone the deadline to counter the appeal.”

During court proceedings on 22 February, the prosecution again asked that the court extend their counter appeal deadline by one month, this time until 23 March. The prosecution made a similar request late last year.

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Aung Myo Thant said it was up to the presiding judge to decide how many times the team for the prosecution may delay submission of their rebuttal to the appeal.

The defence has claimed that there were inconsistencies regarding the prosecution’s presentation of DNA evidence, as well as alleged coercion of the defendants during their interrogation as the investigation unfolded.

The defendants, both in their early 20s, were sentenced to death in December 2015 for the murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found dead on a beach on Koh Tao on the morning of 15 September 2014. In addition to murder, Witheridge had been raped, forensics experts said.

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