MyanmarThailand

Burmese migrants released from Thai prison after murder convictions overturned

By Nyein Nyein – The Irrawaddy | PHOTO: Facebook/Htoo Chit

Two Burmese migrants, serving six and eight year sentences for the alleged murder of a Thai woman in Ranong, southern Thailand in 2015, have won their appeal in a Thai court. Sein Kadone and Wai Lin, who received eight and six year sentences, respectively, have been in prison for three years and eight months. They were finally released Thursday this week.

On October 28, 2015, four Myanmar citizens – Sein Kadone, Wai Lin, Moe Zin Aung and Kyaw Soe Win – were arrested and charged on five counts for the gruesome murder of Orawee Sampaotong, a 17 year old Thai woman, a month before. The Ranong provincial court handed down guilty verdicts in April 2018.

Moe Zin Aung and Kyaw Soe Win, both minors at the time of sentencing, received sentences of four years and two years, from the Juvenile Court of Ranong, but were released last year.

Since their arrests, observers and family members have claimed the four migrants were forced to confess under torture during interrogation by Thai police. Their families said the men and boys were on fishing boats out at sea for the majority of their time in Thailand, and only ever on land for five or six days a month.

U Min Oo, a migrant rights advocate at the Foundation for Education Development, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the two men are currently in the custody of Thai immigration officials in Ranong, and that they’ll be officially returned to Myanmar next week.

“As soon as we heard that the appeal had been won, we went to meet Wai Lin and Sein Kadone. Sein Kadone is eager to go back to his home in Myeik, in southern Myanmar.”

He said Thai officials had not relayed the court decision to the defense lawyers, who received the news from the two mens’ relatives.

“They said they did not expect it. They expressed their gratitude to all the groups and individuals that supported them.”

Daw Ni Tut, Sein Kadone’s mother, said her son’s release was unexpected.

“I met him this morning and I am happy.”

Despite being released, the two must remain in the custody of immigration authorities while going through the official return process.

Sein Kadone and Wai Lin are expected to be returned to Myanmar next Tuesday.

The murder in Ranong occurred a year after an infamous case in which two Myanmar migrants were arrested and charged with the rape and murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao island, in southern Thailand, in September 2014. The two were convicted and sentenced to death in December 2015. They are still in prison appealing their convictions.

SOURCE: The Irrawaddy

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