Ap­peal ver­dict due to­day in min­ing com­pany vs ac­tivists case

The Myanmar Times - - News - Khin­suwai@mm­times.com KHIN SU WAI

A SAGAING Re­gion court is ex­pected to­day to rule on an ap­peal fil­ing from three ac­tivists charged by a min­ing com­pany with tres­pass­ing, in­tim­i­da­tion and ob­struct­ing.

In May, the three de­fen­dants were con­victed and sen­tenced to 52 days in prison and fined K5000 each. But they ap­pealed the case at the dis­trict court, al­legedly that they had only been on the Chi­nese min­ing com­pany’s prop­erty to try to meet with au­thor­i­ties who had been ig­nor­ing them.

“[De­fen­dant] Ko Tin Aung Soe had tried reg­u­larly to meet with the com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives by sub­mit­ting ap­point­ment re­quests, but the com­pany kept de­clin­ing. Ko Tint Aung Soe thought that the com­pany would ac­cept a re­quest to meet if he made that re­quest face-to-face. Clearly, as even the plain­tiff ’s wit­nesses have tes­ti­fied, there has been a misun­der­stand­ing,” lawyer Ko Win Min Aung told The Myan­mar Times.

The three ac­tivists, in­clud­ing Ko Tint Aung Soe, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Myan­mar Al­liance for Trans­parency and Ac­count­abil­ity (MATA), said they were try­ing to press Myan­mar Yang Tse Cop­per Ltd about its in­volve­ment in min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in Sagaing Re­gion.

A sub­sidiary of Chi­nese firm Wan­bao Min­ing, which op­er­ates the hotly con­tested Let­padaung mine in Monywa, Myan­mar Yang Tse op­er­ates the nearby Sa­betaung and Ky­is­in­taung mine.

The Sa­betaung and Ky­is­in­taung mine was de­vel­oped by Cana­dian firm Ivan­hoe Mines in co­op­er­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment, but sold to Wan­bao.

After lo­cals filed com­plaints about the mine re­lated to en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age, the lack of com­pen­sa­tion for land and the block­age of roads last year, the ac­tivists tried to meet with Myan­mar Yang Tse of­fi­cials. Ac­cord­ing to the lawyer, the topics of dis­cus­sion in­clud­ing ask­ing them to use a drip mine mech­a­nism in­stead of spray­ing acid, and to cre­ate a vil­lage devel­op­ment fund.

Wit­ness from the plain­tiff in­cluded of­fi­cials from the Sal­ingyi town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion and mem­bers of the min­ing com­pany’s staff.

“Ten wit­nesses from our side spoke in de­fence. The case has taken a long time be­cause the lawyers have been busy go­ing on trips. The Yin­mar Pin Dis­trict Court will de­cide the ap­peal on July 28 [to­day],” said de­fen­dant Ko Tin Aung Soe from MATA.

The ac­tivists have been charged sec­tions 447, 341 and 147 of the pe­nal code, and could have faced a com­bined sen­tence of a max­i­mum of two years and four months in prison.

Photo: AFP

A worker car­ries con­tain­ers at a waste dump by the Sa­betaung and Ky­is­in­taung mine in Sal­ingyi town­ship, Sagaing Re­gion.

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