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Two Burmese Men Sentenced To Death For 'Unspeakable' Thailand Murders Of British Backpackers Hannah Witheridge And David Miller

24/12/2015 07:51 GMT | Updated 24/12/2015 08:59 GMT
Wason Wanichakorn/AP
Myanmar migrants Win Zaw Htun, right, and Zaw Lin, left, both 22, are escorted by officials after their guilty verdict at court in Koh Samui, Thailand, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. A Thai court on Thursday sentenced the two Myanmar migrants to death for killing British backpackers David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, on the resort island of Koh Tao last year, a crime that focused global attention on tourist safety and police conduct in the country. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

The family of one of the British backpackers brutally murdered on a beach in Thailand said "justice" has been delivered after two Burmese migrants were sentenced to death for the killings.

The battered bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered on the idyllic holiday island of Koh Tao on September 15 last year.

Witheridge, from Hemsby in Norfolk, had been raped before she was killed while Miller, from Jersey, had been hit over the head before drowning in the sea.

Bar workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, also known as Win Zaw Htun, initially confessed to the murders but later retracted their statements, claiming they had been tortured by police.

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Witheridge and Miller pictured

The long-awaited verdicts in their trial were delivered at a court on the island of Koh Samui as both men were found guilty of murder and rape, issued with the death penalty as punishment.

Miller's brother Michael, flanked by parents Ian and Sue, said outside court that the "correct decision" had been reached.

"David was hacked down from behind, dragged into the sea, and left to die. That will live with us forever," he said.

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May Thein, mother of Htun, is overcome with emotion after his verdict

"What happened to Hannah Witheridge is unspeakable.

"We believe the result today represents justice for David and Hannah."

Witheridge's family, who did not travel to Thailand for the verdicts, said the last year had been an "unimaginably impossible time" and they would now be left to "digest the outcome of the trial".

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Michael, with mother and father, speaks outside Koh Samui court

But the process that led to its conclusion on Thursday has come under scrutiny from human rights charities and even the British government.

Amnesty International recently called for an investigation into allegations that the two now convicted murderers were subject to police torture.

It cited a lawyer from the Burmese embassy's legal team who said he had been told that police had beaten one suspect and "threatened him with electrocution".

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office responded, saying it was concerned about the reports and expected a fair investigation.

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