Judicial report cites Thai court’s failings in Koh Tao murder trial

04 April 2016
Judicial report cites Thai court’s failings in Koh Tao murder trial
Myanmar migrant workers, who are accused of the killing two two British tourists, Zaw Lin (R) and Wai Phyo (L) are escorted by a Thai police officer after they were sentenced to death at the Samui Provincial Court, on Koh Samui Island, Thailand, 24 December 2015. Photo: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

An international report on the murder trial which convicted two Myanmar migrant workers in the beating death of a British man and woman has been issued, citing weaknesses in the Thai judicial system.
Between July and October, 2015, observers from the Solicitors' International Human Rights Group monitored trial hearings held in Koh Samui Province in Thailand.
The defendants, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyu were convicted on Dec. 24, 2015, in the murder of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on Sept. 14, 2014, on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand.
Both defendants were sentenced to death by lethal injection. They were also convicted of the rape of Witheridge and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
The defendants are now in a Thai prison pending an appeal.
The report sought to answer the question whether international standards and domestic rules relating to criminal trials were observed by the Koh Samui Provincial Court during the trial.
The report concluded that the trial complied with the right to an impartial tribunal, the right not to be arbitrarily detained pending trial, and the right to legal certainty of the charges.
However, the report concluded the following rights were not fully complied with:
– The right to an independent lawyer while in investigative detention at the police station.
– The right to be treated with dignity at all times during the trial.
– It determined that the right to a public hearing was qualified by the court’s prohibition of any note taking by media, observers or members of the public.
The report also noted the right to be presumed innocent was not expressed to be the court’s starting assumption in the final judgment.