Mandalay protests judicial corruption
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.