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Internet hackers have attacked around 300 Thai court and government websites bringing them offline in retaliation for the sentencing of two Burmese migrant workers to death by a Koh Samui court in December.
The hackers are thought to be associated with the Anonymous group, known for vigilante-style online activism. The successful attacks on official Thai websites were announced via a Facebook page that carries the iconography of the Anonymous group. That iconography can be seen on the main pages of the Thai sites attacked.
The post also included the name of the Blink Hackers Group, which attacked 13 Thai police websites this month.
”#Anonymous shuts down all Thai Court of Justice websites in protest over the #KohTao murder verdict,” the post read.
“Anonymous is supporting the campaign to ask tourists to boycott Thailand ‘until such time changes are made with the way Thai police handle investigations involving foreign tourists’.”
A full list of the 294 Thai websites taken offline by the hackers can be accessed here.
On 24 December, Zaw Linn and Win Zaw Htun, who is also known as Wai Phyo, were found guilty of the murders of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. The pair were killed in in September 2014. Miss Witheridge was also raped. The two men, each 22 and from Arakan State, now have the opportunity to appeal in a process likely to take up to a year.
Critics believe the guilty verdict came on the back of the men’s torture and forced confessions at the hands of Thai police, who are also accused of leading a botched investigation reliant on questionable DNA evidence. The Anonymous online collective has maintained a focus on the case since its end verdict and released a 37-minute video online on 3 January. The monologue by a masked man accused the Thai police of prosecuting Burmese migrant workers as scapegoats for a crime committed by Thai nationals.
The case has drawn the ire of Burmese nationalists, who blockaded the Thai Embassy in Rangoon earlier this month in protest. Immediately after the sentencing, the Burmese government too leapt to the aid of the two Arakanese men whose cause has been taken up across the country.
A team of Burmese lawyers, forensic experts and police has now arrived in Thailand to assist Zaw Linn and Win Zaw Tun. The team was compiled to assist the two men in their appeal process, at the behest of President Thein Sein. It consists of the deputy director of the Union Attorney General’s Office Khin Cho Ohn, police forensic expert Pol-Col. Soe Naing Oo and an appeals expert from Myanmar lawyers Council, Pe Khin.
No extra evidence can be brought forward during the appeals process, which consists of a review of the court proceedings and the cases presented by the prosecution and defence.
The team arrived Thailand on January 11 and met with Thai lawyers providing assistance to the two jailed men.
The experts are now set to travel to Nakhon Si Thammarat Prison, on Thailand’s southern peninsula, where Burmese nationals Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun are incarcerated.
The appeal will be lodged before 28 February.