Thursday, November 27, 2008

Zarganar and Journalist Associates Receive Additional Sentences

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s best-known comedian, Zarganar, and two journalist friends were given additional prison terms by a special court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison on Thursday, according to reliable sources.

Zarganar, who was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment in an earlier court appearance last week, received an additional 14 year prison term for offences under four sections of the criminal code—17/2, 32 (b), 295 (a) and 505 (b).

His journalist friend and associate in a mission to deliver aid to cyclone victims, Zaw Thet Htwe, who had earlier been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, received a further four years on Thursday for offences under sections 505 (b) and 295 (a).

Video journalist Thant Zin Aung, who had also been sentenced earlier to 15 years imprisonment, received an additional three years for infringements of section 32 (b).

Zaw Thet Htwe’s wife Khaing Cho complained that her husband had been jailed for helping people in need. “Everybody knows what is fair and unfair,” she told The Irrawaddy. “I was very disappointed that my husband was jailed for helping cyclone survivors.”

Khaing Cho said she would prepare an appeal against her husband’s conviction and sentencing.

A leading member of the All Burma Federation Students Union, Dee Nyein Lin, also appeared before a court in Rangoon’s Dagon Township on Thursday, and is scheduled to appear again before a court in Htantapin Township in Rangoon Division on Friday, sources said.

Zarganar was arrested in June in a raid in which Burmese authorities seized his computer and about US $1,000 (1,140,000 kyat) in cash.

During the raid, authorities also seized three CDs containing footage of May’s cyclone devastation, the opulent wedding of junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe’s youngest daughter Thandar Shwe, and the film “Rambo 4,” in which Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone fights Burmese government soldiers in a mission to rescue kidnapped westerners.

Court proceedings against 13 members of the 88 Generation Students group are due to continue on Friday. About 40 detained activists, monks, and cyclone volunteer relief workers are still awaiting trail, said sources in Rangoon.

More than 100 of the jailed dissidents have been transferred by Burmese authorities from Insein prison to remote prisons around Burma.

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