Monday, 18 November 2019

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Arakanese abbot handed eight years in jail on sex charges


New Delhi (Mizzima) – Arakanese abbot and historian Ashin Pyinnya Sara yesterday received eight years and three months in prison and a 10,000 kyat fine from Sittwe District Court in Arakan State, his lawyer said. He had been accused of having sexual relations with a woman.

Deputy Chief Justice Wah Wah Tun sentenced the 57-year-old abbot under the Burmese Penal Code’s section 292 (handling obscene materials) to three months in prison; under section 295 (insulting religion) to two years; under section 406 (criminal breach of trust) to three years; under section 24(1) of the foreign exchange act to three years, and fined him 10,000 kyat (US$10) under section 68 (c) of the municipal act, his lawyer, Aye Nu Sein, told Mizzima.

In accordance with the abbot’s wishes, an appeal will be sought with the superior court to review the sentence, Aye Nu Sein said.

The abbot, 57, was accused of having sexual relations with an unspecified woman after his arrest on July 27 and local authorities closed his Buddha Vihara Mahamuni monastery.

His trial started on August 10 and about 60 local residents attended but he was prevented from speaking to anyone afterwards. He was sent directly to Sittwe Prison after the verdict was handed down, Aye Nu Sein said.

The authorities seized Arakanese literature and ancient coins from the monastery and sent about 100 children from its orphanage to other institutions.

The Rakhine Nationalities Development Party issued a statement on August 9 that the junta should return the orphans to the monastery and the artefacts of Arakan State’s cultural inheritance to the state in western Burma.

On September 7, 15 senior monks from Sittwe, Minbya and Ponnagyun sent a letter to the military’s Western Command chief, urging that the case be handled lawfully.

Local residents estimated that the monk would be sentenced to a long prison term and that superior authorities might force to the court to impose serve sentence, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party secretary Khin Pyi Soe told Mizzima.

“The sentence is too heavy. Both the district and state courts should consider the appeal and reduce the sentence,” he said.

Although Ashin Pyinnya Sara’s hometown is Ramree Township in southern Arakan State, he lived in Sittwe in the north of the state. He is well known for his research on Arakanese literature and history.

Local residents described tight security around monasteries and at crossroads in Sittwe yesterday.


 

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