Monday, May 4, 2009

Five years in prison for ex-police officer - U Mrat Tun

Mauangdaw (Narinjara): A retired police officer was sentenced to five years in prison by the Maungdaw District Court on Friday, as he was in contact with a Bangladesh-based media group in exile, a colleague of his said.

U Mrat Tun, age 60 , who is a retired police officer from Pauktaw Township, was arrested by Military Intelligence at a check point on the Buthidaung-Maungdaw motor road earlier last month, while he was returning home from Maungdaw.

“He was charged by the police under the immigration law. He was accused of entering Bangladesh illegally, and networking with the media in exile. On Friday, the Maungdaw District Court sentenced him to five years in prison,” his colleague said.

According to lawyers, the judge sentenced him to a long term in prison, charging him under a Section of Act 13 (1) of the Burmese Immigration Law.

A lawyer from Maungdaw on condition of anonymity said, “We did not get a chance to advocate his case and the judge’s verdict was one-sided because there were no witnesses and lawyers to defend him. Senior Military Intelligence officials pressurized the judge to sentence him to five years in prison.”

A relative said, the family members of U Mrat Tun had no chance to attend the court proceedings to hear the case before the verdict of the court.

Burmese military authorities have ordered the local police force not to sue any person with political lawsuit dispatches, if he/she were arrested for being involved in politics. Due to that, the police force sued him under an immigration case, the lawyer said.

According to a local source, Ko Mrat Tun was the fourth person sentenced to a long term in prison in Arakan State, this year, for having contacts with the media in exile.

In the past, three people have been sentenced from one to five years respectively, under the immigration law, as they allegedly had contacts with the media in exile.

Among them, Ko Tha Tun from Buthidaung was sentenced to five years in prison and currently he is in Buthidaung Prison, Ko San Lwin from Taungup, was sentenced to five years in prison and he is now in Thandwe Prison, while Ko Nyint Maung from Maungdaw was sentenced to one year in prison and is lodged in Buthidaung Prison.

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