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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 11:27 GMT
Thai murder pair's death sentence
Thai fishermen Bualoi Posit, 23, foreground, and Wichai Somkhaoyai, 24 arrive at the court in Surat Thani
The men were sentenced to be executed by lethal injection
Two Thai fishermen have been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 21-year-old Briton Katherine Horton.

Wichai Somkhaoyai, 24, and Bualoi Posit, 23, face lethal injection for the killing on Koh Samui on 1 January.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the men should be executed because of the damage to the country's image.

The family of Miss Horton, from Cardiff, thanked Thai police, but Fair Trials Abroad and Amnesty International criticised the speed of their sentence.

Amid concern in the UK over the nature of the trial, the Horton family reiterated that they did not want to be involved in the criminal and political processes of another country.

Katherine Horton on holiday in Koh Samui
Katherine Horton was on a two-week holiday with a university friend

"Our family would like to thank the authorities in Thailand, especially the Royal Thai Police, for their diligent and speedy apprehension of the offenders, which has helped us seek an end to the uncertainties of this tragedy," their statement read.

It came just a few hours after the hearing on Wednesday, where Judge Chamnong Sutchaimai told the court: "The crime they committed has terrified people.

"To prevent others from committing similar acts, the court rules that the two defendants be sentenced to death."

The one-day trial of the two fishermen accused of raping and murdering Reading University student Miss Horton took place on Friday in Surat Thani.

Dragged out to sea

The trial heard that the attack took place at 2100 local time on New Year's Day, close to where Miss Horton was staying on Lamai beach, on the island of Koh Samui.

The fishermen, the judges were told, had been watching pornographic films on their boat before swimming ashore.

They attacked Miss Horton after she wandered off from friends to make a mobile phone call on the beach.

The court heard how she was beaten with a parasol pole, raped and later dragged out to sea where she drowned.

The case has had a heavy impact on the tourist industry in Samui
Colonel Preecha Thimimontri

It was said that the men had "effectively left Katherine for dead" and how it was possible she was still alive when they left her.

Her body was washed up the next morning on a remote beach a few kilometres away.

Colonel Preecha Thimimontri, who headed the police investigation, said they "respected the verdict of the judge".

"Even though they have the death penalty, they have the right to go to the appeal court," he said.

Asked whether the case has put people off going on holiday to Thailand, he said: "Absolutely, the case has had a heavy impact on the tourist industry in Samui."

'Opposes death penalty'

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are grateful to the Thai police for all their hard work with this case."

But he added: "The government opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and has made this clear."

Fair Trials Abroad's Stephen Jakobi said he was "disappointed" at the death sentence.

He said he was not aware of a death sentence being imposed in similar murder cases in Thailand and highlighted the jail term given to a police sergeant who killed a British couple last year.

Katherine Gerson from Amnesty International said: "We are also concerned that the prime minister has called for the imposition of the death penalty. That is for the judiciary to decide," she said.

See the scene inside the court

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