Thai king commutes death sentences for two men over killings of UK tourists


Two men on death row in Thailand for the murders of two British backpackers have had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin, migrant workers from Myanmar, were sentenced to death in 2015 after being found guilty of murdering David Miller, 24, and murdering and raping Hannah Witheridge, 23.

Their badly beaten bodies were discovered on a beach on the holiday island of Koh Tao in 2014.

The badly beaten bodies of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were discovered on a beach on the holiday island of Koh Tao in 2014.
Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered dead on a beach

Previous appeals failed, with the Supreme Court upholding the guilty verdicts in 2019.

The ruling meant the Thai King was the only person who could overturn the death sentences.

A lawyer for the men confirmed to Sky News that a royal decree published on Friday means that they will now serve life in prison instead.

The decree said the royal pardons were granted to commemorate the King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday on July 28 and to “illustrate the king’s clemency”, according to Reuters.

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The mothers of the convicted men travelled to Bangkok in October to ask for a pardon from the Thai monarch.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News at the time, Phyu Shwe Nu and Taw May Thein maintained their sons were innocent.

“Don’t kill my son,” Phyu Shwe Nu sobbed. “My son didn’t do it, my son didn’t kill them.”

Both men have consistently denied the murders, saying their original confessions were obtained under duress.

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Thai police say evidence, including DNA, found at the scene and on Ms Witheridge’s body led to their arrests.

The family of Mr Miller has repeatedly expressed its view that justice has been done and the evidence against the men was overwhelming.

However, following the Supreme Court verdict in 2019, Mr Miller’s father Ian said he hoped the death penalty would be withdrawn in exchange for prison sentences.

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