Thailand's Supreme Court upholds death penalty for men convicted of murdering British backpackers

Myanmar nationals Win Zaw Tun (L) and Zaw Lin look out from a prison transport van as they arrive at court for the start of their trial on the Thai resort island of Koh Samui in 2015.

(CNN)Thailand's Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for two Burmese migrant workers convicted of murdering two British backpackers on a Thai resort island in 2014.

Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo -- also known as Win Zaw Htun -- were found guilty of the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and the murder of David Miller, 24, on December 24, 2015.
The bodies of the young Britons were discovered in September 2014 on a beach on Koh Tao, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand. They were partially undressed and had sustained severe head injuries.
    The murders on Koh Tao -- an idyllic island popular with divers -- drew intense media attention from across the world. Defense lawyers for the two men later alleged that police had rushed the investigation in order to avoid Thailand losing its image as one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.
    But Thailand's top court Thursday upheld the death penalty, ruling that forensic evidence against the convicted men was "clear, credible, and detailed." The court also refuted suggestions that the police had mishandled the case.
    Speaking outside the courtroom in Bangkok, head defense lawyer for the pair, Nakhon Chomphuchat, said they would seek a royal pardon, which must be submitted within 60 days.

    Forensic evidence

    The Burmese men, from Myanmar's Rakhine state, were working in the hospitality industry on the island at the time of the incident. They were arrested almost two weeks after the bodies were found and originally confessed, only to later recant, saying their admissions of guilt were made under duress.
    The defense team argued that the police investigation was flawed due to "alleged mishandling of forensic evidence, abuse of suspects and intimidation of witnesses," according to a previous statement issued by the Migrant Worker Rights Network, a rights group assisting the defense team.