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Two Burmese workers sentenced to death for British backpacker murders

Defense lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat said they would file an appeal within a month.

Miller and Witheridge’s battered bodies were found September 15, 2014, on the rocky shores of Koh Tao, an island in the Gulf of Thailand known for its white sand beaches and scuba diving.

The pair were also found guilty of raping Witheridge in a ruling that was welcomed by Miller’s family, who travelled to Thailand for the verdict.

Post-mortem examinations showed that both had suffered severe head wounds. The government expert said the police had “used up all the samples”.

The men’s mothers sat behind them, sobbing during the judgment, before bursting into tears as the verdict was announced.

David Miller (L) and Hannah Witheridge (R) killed late at night in 2014.

They attended the opening of the trial in July when they said they ‘simply want to see justice done fairly and openly‘.

Miss Witheridge’s family, who did not travel to Thailand for the verdicts, said the a year ago had been an “unimaginably impossible time” and they would now “digest the outcome of the trial”.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Yangon on Thursday issued a warning for Thais in Myanmar to take safety precautions as demonstrations were expected there after the Koh Samui provincial court sentenced to death two Myanmar men in the Koh Tao murders.

Parts of the investigation had been questioned in both countries, with Britain past year expressing “real concern” over the police probe, and Myanmar at one point asking for the case to be re-investigated.

“We believe what happened today represents justice for Hannah and David”, Mr Miller said.

The two migrants were arrested about two weeks after the murders. The prosecution did not present photographs of the crime scene, autopsy or DNA analysis processes and there was a lack of evidence on forensic laboratory procedures, they said. Both defendants later retracted their confessions saying they were tortured by police. Police have denied the accusation.

Zaw Lin, one of the suspects, told the court that he feared for his life after his interrogators stripped him naked in a freezing room, placed plastic bags over his head and repeatedly asked: “Did you kill or not?”

It is not immediately clear whether the defense lawyers will appeal the guilty verdict.

Mr Miller said that after hearing the evidence during the trial he believed the Thai police investigation was “not the so-called shambles it was made out to be”. An expert witness testified that the hoe contained DNA from two males, but not the suspects.

In its own investigation of the case, the Thai National Human Rights Commission found the allegations of torture by the two Myanmar nationals to be credible.

Prosecutors said the DNA evidence, collected from cigarette butts, a condom and the bodies of the victims, links the two men to the killings.

There are about 2.5 million Myanmarese, working mainly for tourism industry in Thailand.

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