David Miller’s parents, one of two British backpackers found murdered in Koh Tao in September 2014, have said they are ‘grateful’ for the royal pardon issued by Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn, after their son’s killers had their death sentences commuted to life in prison on Friday.
Ian and Sue Miller issued a statement which said: “We are grateful to His Majesty the King of Thailand for showing his clemency to the murderers of our son David.” The couple had campaigned against the death penalty in the past.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were convicted and sentenced to death in December 2015 for the murder of David Miller, 24 and the murder and rape of Hannah Witheridge, 23.
Their death sentence verdicts were upheld by an appeals court in 2017 and then by the Supreme Court in August 2019. The Royal decree on Friday said that the royal pardons, that apply to all inmates on death row, were to commemorate the King’s birthday on July 28th.
The lawyer representing the Myanmar migrant workers, Nakhon Chompuchat, said in a statement: ‘The two are eligible under a section in the royal pardon decree to get their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment. There will also be a chance for their sentences to be reduced further on good behaviour.’
‘I can’t find words to express how thankful we are,’ Ye Zaw Htun, Win Zaw Htun’s brother, told reporters on Saturday after the announcement of the decree. ‘We knew this case was unfair, and we sometimes feel bitterness, but we want to say thank you for the Royal pardon.’
A commutation of their sentence had been the pair’s last hope after their final appeal failed a year ago, with the Supreme court ruling the evidence against them was clear.
The convictions have been highly controversial. Supporters of the two men argued that they were framed and claimed that they initially confessed to the crimes under duress.