Appeal verdict due today in mining company vs activists case
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.
A worker carries containers at a waste dump by the Sabetaung and Kyisintaung mine in Salingyi township, Sagaing Region.