Saturday, November 22, 2008

Comedian Zarganar handed 45-year prison term

by Nem Davies
21 November 2008

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Famous comedian and film director Zarganar, held in Insein prison, was sentenced to 45 years in jail today by the prison court.

The court held the trial inside Insein prison and sentenced him on three counts under the Electronic Law to 45 years in prison today for 'disaffection towards state and government' by using the internet.

"I am proud of my elder brother-in-law. He was arrested because of his relief effort among Cyclone Nargis victims. The government's action is arbitrary. My brother cracked a joke when the judge pronounced his judgment. 'I was given 45 years prison term on an 'I' case. I was sent to Insein prison when I used Internet to study IT (Information Technology)', "Ma Nyein, his sister-in-law quoted him as saying.

His family members had to wait at the main entrance of the prison as they were not allowed to attend the court proceeding. Only his defence counsel Khin Htay Kywe was allowed to enter the courtroom. She served as defence lawyer in this case along with lawyers Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein.

The court fixed November 27 to hear five remaining cases against him.

His family and defence lawyer have not yet decided to go for an appeal. They will discuss the need for an appeal against today's judgment with him when they visit him in prison on Sunday.

Similarly the same Insein prison court sentenced sport columnist Zaw Thet Htwe and his co-accused Thant Zin Aung today to 15 years in prison each and gave 29 years prison term to another accused Tin Maung Aye a.k.a. Gadone for their rescue and relief operation for cyclone Nargis victims.

The authorities arrested Zarganar at his residence while he was into Cyclone Nargis rescue and relief operations for the victims.

The comedian joined the pro-democracy movement actively and he was arrested time and again for cracking political jokes and also barred from performing in public and in films.

Canada based 'PEN' (Canada) awarded him 'One Humanity Award' for 2008 for his bravery and integrity in his struggle for freedom of the press and freedom of expression and imprisoned him for these activities.

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