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Lawyer Pho Phyu may be released

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Young lawyer Pho Phyu put in prison after taking up the case of farmers relating to farmland confiscation, is likely to be released, lawyer Myint Thwin, fighting his case said.

“The Chief Justice took up the case under section 8 of the 2000 Judicial Law and since he took it up we hope he will be released,” lawyer Myint Thwin said.

“Under section 8 of the 2000 Judicial Law, the Chief Justice usually takes up only one case in a year. Since this was taken up under the judicial principles by the Chief Justice, we hope he will be released,” he added.

The case will be heard again on February 15.

‘An International Labour Organization’ (ILO) delegation led by Executive Director Mr. Kari Tapiola met a  Burmese delegation led by retired Col. Chit Shein of the Ministry of Labour in Naypyidaw on January 22.

Soon after the visit by the ILO delegation, the news of the hearing of lawyer Pho Phyu’s case was heard. Lt. Col. Yu Lwin Aung, Managing Director of the Ministry of Labour, reportedly met the families of farmers from Aung Lan being held in connection with their farmland cases. Lt. Col. Yu Lwin Aung told the families that they would be given farmlands against their seized plots.

“Lt. Col. Yu Lwin Aung said that they would grant substitute farmlands to the farmers. But the families and the farmers being held in prison did not accept the offer. They want their own farms back,” a source in the judicial circuit said.

The Magwe Division Court charged lawyer Pho Phyu with setting up an organization without registration under section 3(c), and attempt at stopping the government administrative machinery from functioning under section 5(c). The court sentenced him to four years in prison on 17 March 2009.

The farmers from Aung Lan Township lodged a complaint with the ILO office of forcible seizure of their farmlands for a sugar mill project. Lawyer Pho Phyu represented the farmers in court. He was arrested on 15 January 2009 on the Aung Lan town highway. 

After receiving complaints from farmers over forcible seizure of about 2,000 acres of farmlands, the Rangoon based ILO office met Labour Ministry officials. Subsequently the local military commander re-allowed them to work on their farms on a verbal order. But the 11 farmers were arrested when they re-entered their farms and began cultivation. They were charged under section 447 of the Penal Code (trespassing) and section 427 of the Penal Code (mischief).

The Magwe Divisional Court is likely to pronounce its judgment on the case on February 17.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2010 17:17 )  

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