Defamation hearing today in ‘big rooster’ Facebook case
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