Katherine Horton’s killers and the death sentence

Two Thai fishermen have been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Welsh backpacker Katherine Horton.
There are few words to describe the manner of the 21-year-old student’s death. It was simply brutal and despicable.
But that should not stop us from questioning the Thai authorities’ decision to fast-track the men’s trial and sentencing.
Bualoi Posit, 23, and Wichai Somkhaoyai, 24, who are illiterate and had no witnesses presented by their defence, deserved the fairest trial like everyone else. Not just for their sake, but for the sake of justice and for Katherine’s family.
The speed of the process, based on Thai police claims about DNA evidence and the two men’s alleged confession, is bound to cause consternation, particularly when considered alongside the political interference in the case.
Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was so worried about the consequences of the murder on his country’s tourism industry that he stepped in to appeal for the killers to be executed.
Murder cases usually take months to conclude in Thailand, but in this case sentencing took place only 17 days after the attack and only nine days after their arrest.
Katherine’s family have been remarkable throughout their ordeal.
While waiting for the sentencing, her mother Elizabeth told the News of the World: “I’ve never believed in the death penalty, but I believe life means life.
“A life sentence would be appropriate. I don’t agree with taking anyone’s life and Katherine wouldn’t believe in that either. I don’t think that serves any purpose. If they are behind bars until they die it will stop it happening to anyone else.”
It is not difficult for the observer, campaigner or commentator to argue against the death penalty. But to do so from Elizabeth Horton’s position shows courage, dignity and incredible strength of character. Hers are not words it should be easy for anyone to ignore.

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