Man­dalay protests ju­di­cial cor­rup­tion

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

AN­GRY protesters took to the streets de­mand­ing the re­moval of judges for al­leged cor­rup­tion af­ter a Man­dalay Re­gion town­ship court threat­ened to send a teenager to prison for a year, or in­voke a K300,000 fine.

Ma Sabyal Phyu, who is un­der 16 years of age, had been ac­cused un­der elec­toral laws of swear­ing at mem­bers of the Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party dur­ing the Novem­ber election cam­paign.

About 500 peo­ple led by the Up­per Myan­mar Rights Group of work­ers and farm­ers protested on Au­gust 29 against Nwart­o­gyi Town­ship Court about the case, which they con­tend has been han­dled by the court like a vendetta against a per­sonal grudge.

The com­plaint emerged as the USDP can­di­date, former trans­porta­tion min­is­ter U Nyan Tun Aung, was con­test­ing the Pyithu Hlut­taw seat in last year’s elec­toral cam­paign. The Na­tional League for Democ­racy can­di­date, U Naing Htoo Aung, de­feated him.

A USDP mem­ber sued four NLD sup­port­ers un­der the elec­toral law, said protest leader U Aye Thein. The protest group has ap­plied for a change of venue to the dis­trict court at My­ingyan for the other three NLD sup­port­ers in­volved in the case.

“We be­lieve the town­ship judges and le­gal of­fi­cials are play­ing the USDP’s game. They’re treat­ing an elec­toral com­plaint as if it were a crim­i­nal case,” said U Aye Thein, a senior mem­ber of the rights group.

The four de­fen­dants – Ko Soe Min Htay, Ko Chit Ko, Ma Ohn Htay and Ma Sabyal Phyu – face three charges un­der sec­tions 294, 354 and 506 of the pe­nal code, for ob­scene acts, as­sault of a woman and in­tim­i­da­tion re­spec­tively.

The charges were filed by Daw Aye Myint, chief cam­paign or­gan­iser for the USDP.

Claim­ing bias on the part of court of­fi­cials, U Aye Thein said the NLD de­fence lawyer had not been al­lowed to ex­am­ine the com­plaint filed or to cross-ex­am­ine the wit­nesses.

Protesters staged the march along the main street of the town­ship and in front of the court, with police per­mis­sion.

“We de­mand the re­moval of the judges and le­gal of­fi­cials who have been mis­us­ing the laws,” said U Aye Thein.

Nwart­o­gyi town­ship NLD sec­re­tary U Kyaw Swe said he feared cor­rupt lo­cal court of­fi­cials would send the three ac­cused NLD mem­bers to prison.

But lo­cal USDP sec­re­tary U Soe Naing Win said the party was not in­volved in the case.

“This law­suit was brought by an in­di­vid­ual, not by the party. We have ex­erted no pres­sure and spo­ken to no judges or lawyers,” he said.

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