Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three NLD members framed and jailed for exposing corruption

by Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Twante Township Court in Rangoon Division, sentenced three NLD youth wing members, who had exposed the rampant corruption of local authorities, to seven days imprisonment on Tuesday.

Township Court Judge Aye Ko Ko sentenced Twante Township, Zaythit Ward, Mibametta fish wholesaler, Khin Zaw, his employees and NLD youth members Zaw Myo Latt, Kyaw Thu Lynn and Than Myint to seven days imprisonment, under the 1907 Towns Act.

"Initially they charged Khin Zaw and seven others. Then they acquitted four of them as they were from Twante town. Khin Zaw and the remaining three were sentenced to seven days imprisonment each," Advocate Kyin Toe from Twante said.

According to the 1907 Towns Act, guests coming from other regions need to register at local administrative offices and the guests from the same town do not need to register, if they stay overnight in other wards of the same town.

However, the local 'Peace and Development Council' (PDC) office refused to register these employees, without giving any reason, when they went there and tried to register them late last month.

Then they went to the Township Police Station on February 28, and requested the police personnel to record their guest registration. Duty officer, Sub-Inspector Aung Naing Oo accordingly registered them.

All these documents were then sent to Township PDC and other local authorities.

Meanwhile, on March 3, Ward PDC members, 100-household headman, the police force, immigration department, Fire Brigade personnel and beat policeman arrived at Khin Zaw's residence and arrested them and sent them to the Township Police Station for not registering as guests.

Zaythit Ward PDC Chairman, Than Oo, prosecuted them at the township court with guest registration cases. Advocate U Kyin Toe acted as the legal counsel for all of them in this case.

The Township Court released all of them on bail with Kyat. 2.7 million sureties, deposited by local NLD youth wing Chairman Ye Htut Khaung and 5 elders from the ward on March 5. The court fixed the date for hearing on March 9.

Kyin Toe argued in court on March 9, that the accused had visited the police station and registered as guests there. The court summoned the police officers for re-examination, but it was learnt that the Divisional PDC office sent an instruction to the local officials saying there was no need to give testimony in court.

Following the incident, the court fixed another hearing on March 24, and they were sentenced to seven days imprisonment each, yesterday.

Kyin Toe explained this at the court saying, "They gave no reason when they denied the registration request. They just said they could not accept the registration request at about 7 p.m. on that day. Then both the house owner and all his guests, were taken to the township police station and informed about the Zaythit Ward PDC's refusal to accept their registration request. I told the police officer to report our guest registration."

Khin Zaw is well-known as the whistle blower of corruption by local authorities and he had also signed in the petition letter for 'Free Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo' signature campaign.

"I feel very sorry for them as they are innocent. They just signed on the petition in the signature campaign, launched for freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Tin Oo and all political prisoners. The local PDC Chairman framed them in a false case, without proper reason and sentenced them to prison. I feel extremely sorry for them," Township NLD youth wing in-charge, Ye Htut Khaung, said.

The four persons acquitted are Aung Ko Latt, Than Zaw, Htwe Hla and Ma Tin Tin Hla. Apart from Khin Zaw, the remaining 3 persons, who were convicted, hail from Zwekapin village in Maubin Township.

These people have lived in Twante town, Kungyan Ward for over 10 years and their application for residential registration in this town is still under consideration.

"I think the judiciary must be independent. As Gen. Thura Shwe Man said no one is above the law. However, in practice, the Divisional PDC office and local police officers are above the law and judiciary," Advocate Kyin Toe said.

He said that he would appeal against this verdict.

All four convicted people are still in police custody at Twante Police Station and it has been learnt that they would be sent to Insein prison today.

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