Saturday, 25 January 2020

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11 Arakanese youths should be released, lawyer says

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Eleven Arakanese youths held in Insein prison for about a year should be acquitted of several charges, including bearing arms, dealing in drugs and contacting an exiled organisation, one of the lawyers said ahead of the court’s verdict in their trial, citing the lack of evidence or witnesses in the prosecution’s case. 

The advocate’s comments followed the prosecutor’s submission of his written final argument in Rangoon West District special tribunal sitting in Insein prison last Wednesday. Judge Myint San set tomorrow to hand down the verdict.

“There are no eyewitnesses or incriminating evidence against my clients, meaning that all 11 of these defendants should be immediately acquitted,” lawyer Kyaw Hoe said. “They were charged … with contacting the exile-based All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress, recruiting new members for this organisation, selling narcotic drugs for this organisation, carrying arms and ammunition and committing bomb attacks in Burma.”

Military Affairs Security, the junta’s intelligence service, arrested the group at different locations in Arakan State in September last year, alleging they had been in contact with the AASYC, had set off bomb blasts and had crossed the border illegally.

Special Branch Police Major Than Soe was public prosecutor in the total of five cases. Six of the accused including Tun Lin Kyaw, Aung San Thein and Khai Kyaw Moe were charged with illegal border-crossing under section 13(1) of the Immigration Act and under section 7 of the Associations Law. Naing Soe, aka Mae Lone, was charged with setting off an explosive device, as was Ye Htet Soe, who was also charged under section 6(1) of the Burma Telegraph Act.

The judge reportedly examined mainly the alleged bombings and questioned only the police case officer, Kyaw Yin.

The AASYC, a pro-democracy ethnic organisation based in Thailand, had denied any contact with the accused.

Family members of the 11 said they had no contact with their loved ones after military intelligence detained them until they were brought before the court for a hearing on December 20 last year.

The court has continually refused to let family members’ enter the public gallery during proceedings. Lawyers for the defendants asked that two relatives of each of the accused be allowed in court on March 29 but it rejected the plea and has continued to deny access throughout the trial.

Lawyers for the accused, Aye Thein, Maung Maung Latt, Thida Ma Ma and Kyaw Hoe, said they would lodge an appeal against the judgement if the defendants were given prison terms. 


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