Friday, November 28, 2008

Total prison term for Zarganar climbs to 59 years

by Than Htike Oo
Friday, 28 November 2008 12:03

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Insein prison court has tacked on an additional 14 years to the prison term of famous comedian and film director Zarganar, bringing his total sentence to 59 years behind bars.

Zarganar was sentenced to 14 more years yesterday by the Rangoon West District Court Judge Kyaw Swe on five counts, including inducing against state security and charges under the Video Law.

"They gave him 14 years today and six months for video distribution. I think he (the judge) was kind hearted and gave only six months. But he was given an additional 14 year prison term today," his sister-in-law Ma Nyein told Mizzima.

The Insein prison court previously gave Zarganar 45 years in prison on three counts under the Electronic Law on November 21 – with the additional prison term handed out only six days later.

Zarganar's defence lawyer, Zaw Lin, said that he would file an appeal for his client.

"We must copy the judgment for appeal and ready the criminal power signed by my client. And then we plan to file an appeal against the verdict," he said.

"I'd like to pass on the words Ko Zarganar said at the court today. It's just a joke. He said that currently in the whole world, including Japan and China, the economy is declining. These countries have also admitted this fact. But in Burma, it is rising instead of declining – in prison terms. He cracked this joke at the court."

Zarganar was arrested at his residence in June this year at a time when he was heavily involved in cyclone relief operations for victims of May's deadly storm.

The pro-democracy activist has criticized authorities many times before by cracking jokes – being called from his home, interrogated and detained on many occasions for such brazen behavior.

The Insein prison court also sentenced sports columnist Zaw Thet Htwe today to an additional four years, as well as giving activist Thant Zin Aung another three years. The two had already been given 15-year prison terms each on November 21.

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