Myanmar nationals Zaw Lin (left) and Win Zaw Tun (right). Image credit: AFP

Thailand’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentences of Myanmar migrant workers in the high-profile murder of two British backpackers on the popular tourist island of Koh Tao in 2014.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were found guilty of the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and of killing David Miller, 24.

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The pair’s battered bodies were found on a beach on the southern diving resort of Koh Tao in September 2014.

Prosecutors insisted the evidence against the men from Myanmar’s impoverished Rakhine state was clear, and a lower court upheld their conviction in 2017.

But during the proceedings, the defence said authorities mishandled the investigation and DNA evidence, not allowing independent analysis of samples and using confessions the pair said were coerced.

Police were accused of buckling to pressure to solve a crime that made global headlines and threatened to damage a tourism sector that accounts for a fifth of Thailand’s economy.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun arrived at the court on Thursday morning, on the outskirts of Bangkok in tan prison jumpsuits.

Andy Hall, an international adviser to the defence, said the evidence against them was “unreliable”.

“The death penalty sentence against the two accused and their conviction should be reversed and quashed.”

Thailand’s legal system is notoriously opaque, with some cases flying through the courts while others take years.

The 2017 appeal decision was presented to the two men with no translator and without lawyers present, according to the defence.

With the Supreme Court upholding the ruling, their last hope is the possibility of a royal pardon.