Defama­tion hear­ing to­day in ‘big rooster’ Face­book case

The Myanmar Times - - News - TOE WAI AUNG toe­wa­iaung@mm­times.com

THE al­leged owner of the Face­book ac­count “Kyat Pha Gyi” will stand trial to­day, more than seven months af­ter he was ar­rested and charged with defama­tion for Face­book posts deemed in­sult­ing to the mil­i­tary com­man­der-in-chief and former pres­i­dent U Thein Sein, ac­cord­ing to the de­fen­dant’s lawyer.

Ko Hla Phone was ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary, af­ter au­thor­i­ties linked him to the ac­count Kyat Pha Gyi – mean­ing “big rooster” in Myan­mar – and ac­cused him of cre­at­ing the of­fend­ing posts, which used pho­to­shopped im­ages to dis­par­age the pres­i­dent and Se­nior Gen­eral U Min Aung Hlaing.

The de­fen­dant, who faces defama­tion un­der ar­ti­cle 66(d) of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Law among other charges, has de­nied that he is the owner of the Face­book ac­count. His lawyer, U Robert San Aung, posted the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in the case to his Face­book ac­count over the week­end.

A string of posts from Oc­to­ber 2015 to Fe­bru­ary took aim at Myan­mar’s se­nior lead­er­ship un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, with one pro­claim­ing “Fuck 25 per­cent”, an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to the one-quar­ter al­lot­ment of mil­i­tar­ily ap­pointed seats in par­lia­ment, as a dog defe­cates on Snr Gen U Min Aung Hlaing. A sub­se­quent charge un­der the Union Flag Law per­tains to a Face­book post in which the na­tional ban­ner was set as back­ground ac­com­pa­ny­ing a doc­tored im­age of U Thein Sein, Snr Gen U Min Aung Hlaing and former par­lia­men­tary Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann rid­ing to­gether in a car shaped like a mil­i­tary boot.

Though Ko Hla Phone has been held with­out bail since Fe­bru­ary, the of­fend­ing Face­book ac­count has con­tin­ued to post ma­te­rial, leav­ing U Robert San Aung op­ti­mistic about an ac­quit­tal. Mayan­gone Town­ship Court will de­cide to­day whether to pro­ceed with pros­e­cu­tion on four counts, ac­cord­ing to U Robert San Aung’s Face­book post.

– Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han

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