Myanmar ambassador calls for review of Koh Tao murder case

Members of the Burmese community in London protest outside the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street in October last year, to call for an independent investigation into the murders and justice for migrant workers in Thailand. Photo: Flickr.

Myanmar’s ambassador to Thailand has called on Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to review the case of two migrant workers sentenced to death for a brutal double murder on the resort island of Koh Tao.

Ambassador Win Maung said in a statement that he did not accept the court’s ruling, although he respected it.

“Even though we do not wish to meddle with the justice system of Thailand, we would like to request the prime minister for review and reconsideration of the case,” he said.

Meanwhile, local authorities in the border area warned Thais against visiting Myanmar amid angry protests over the fate of Myanmar men Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, who were convicted on December 24 of the murders last year of British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge.

Thai tourists in Myanmar should return home urgently and those planning to cross the border should delay their trip, said authorities in Sangkhlaburi district of Kanchanaburi province.

This followed a peaceful protest on Saturday by about 400 people in the town of Taungoo, which is across the border from Sangkhlaburi.

In the Myanmar border town of Tachileik, more than 2,000 protesters rallied at the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, which crosses into Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Rai.

Thai officials closed the border to vehicles, while Myanmar police set up a barricade to control the protesters on the Tachileik side.

Protests also continued outside the Thai Embassy in Yangon for a third day yesterday. Myanmar poet Aung Khun Sat said the protesters were there “to demand justice for the two Myanmar nationals who were unfairly sentenced to death”.

“We … feel that the court decision is unfair and that there was no transparency in the court hearing,” he said.

Many people in Myanmar, as well as international human rights organisations, have expressed concern about the controversial police investigation into the murders and the trial of the two men, who are widely believed to be innocent scapegoats.

The Lawyers Council of Thailand said yesterday that it would meet with the Myanmar ambassador and relatives of the two convicted men on Wednesday to talk about how it could provide legal assistance in any appeal.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were yesterday transferred from a prison on the island of Koh Samui to a high-security prison on the mainland.

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