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Myanmar protests death sentence of two nationals convicted of killing British tourists

Thai officials have been asked to review death sentences of two Myanmar nationals. Migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were found guilty by a Thai court of killing two British tourists at a diving resort last year.

In a letter to senior leaders of Thailand's junta, including Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, Myanmar's military chief General Min Aung Hlaing asked for a "review of evidence" against the two citizens of his country, the state-run newspaper "Global New Light of Myanmar" reported Sunday.

"The commander-in-chief expressed his respect for Thailand's judicial process while stressing the need to avoid a situation in which the innocent…were wrongly punished," the newspaper reported.

Myanmar's ambassador to Bangkok also issued a statement in the "Bangkok Post" against the verdict. "Even though we do not wish to meddle with the justice system of Thailand, we would like to request the prime minister review and reconsider the case," Win Maung said.

Thai judges found Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun guilty of murdering British citizens David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23 - an incident which tainted Thailand's reputation as a holiday resort. Their bodies were found at the beach resort of Koh Tao in September 2014. The two men, immigrant workers from Myanmar, were

sentenced to death on Thursday.

Protests against verdicts

Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin, front left, and Win Zaw Htun, rear, arrive at a provincial court in Surat Thani province, Thailand Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

The death sentence for Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun sparked anger in Myanmar

The court's verdict sparked anger in Myanmar, with

several protests

being held at the Shwe Dagon pagoda, the Thai embassy in Yangon and at border crossings to Thailand. On Sunday, protesters marched to the house of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy Party will form the government next year. The participants also handed over a letter asking for her help.

Rights groups also accused Thai authorities of discrepancies in the investigation, saying the case reflected a trend of low-paid migrant workers being blamed for crimes in Thailand's corrupt justice system.

However, Thai police and lawyers insisted that they had found DNA from the migrant workers on the two victims' bodies. They also said they received an endorsement from David Miller's family on Sunday, supporting the verdict and saying the evidence against the accused was "overwhelming."

The defense counsel for the two men said they would appeal against the verdict and disputed forensic evidence, saying it had been incorrectly obtained and processed. They also accused police of torturing their clients into confessing. The confession was later retracted.

The two men were moved to a high security prison in Nakhon Si Thammarat in southern Thailand on Saturday.

mg/se (AFP, AP)

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