Legal of­fi­cer calls for tourist to be for­mally tried

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun thannaing­soe@mm­times.com THAN NAING SOE

A town­ship of­fi­cial re­quested yes­ter­day that the court pur­sue a for­mal trial for Dutch tourist Klaas Haytema.

A TOWN­SHIP legal of­fi­cer in Man­dalay has for­mally re­quested that Dutch tourist Klaas Haytema face a crim­i­nal trial for his ac­tions on Septem­ber 23, when he un­plugged an am­pli­fier that was being used to broad­cast a Bud­dhist dhamma ser­mon.

Mr Haytema is ac­cused of dis­con­nect­ing the am­pli­fier at about 10pm on Septem­ber 23 out­side his ho­tel near Thusarita Dham­ma­ry­one, a re­li­gious com­mu­nity hall in Maha Aung Myay town­ship, Man­dalay Re­gion.

A num­ber of pre­lim­i­nary ar­raign­ment hear­ings have been held so far in the case with wit­nesses, in­clud­ing Mr Haytema, giv­ing ev­i­dence about the night’s events.

If the court de­cides to go for­ward with crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion, the de­fen­dant will face charges un­der sec­tion 295 of the pe­nal code for in­ten­tional in­sult to re­li­gious feel­ings or be­liefs. He is fac­ing ad­di­tional charges un­der im­mi­gra­tion laws.

Yes­ter­day, an­other wit­ness, Daw Yi Yi Win, gave ev­i­dence that seemed to cor­rob­o­rate the tes­ti­mony of pre­vi­ous wit­nesses in the case.

Ac­cord­ing to her tes­ti­mony, she was recit­ing the Dhamma Setkya ser­mon in the com­mu­nity hall when the in­ci­dent oc­curred. She said Mr Haytema en­tered the hall with his shoes on, shouted “hey” and sig­nalled to those gath­ered in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to in­di­cate that he wanted the am­pli­fier’s sound cut. He then un­plugged some cords, switch­ing off the am­pli­fier out­side the com­mu­nity hall.

Fol­low­ing Daw Yi Yi Win’s tes­ti­mony, U Sithu Swe Tun, town­ship legal of­fi­cer for Maha Aung Myay town­ship, made a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion to the court that Mr Haytema’s case should go to trial, given the weight of ev­i­dence against him in the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ings.

“Since pre­lim­i­nary hear­ings in this case be­gan on Septem­ber 28, we have re­ceived the tes­ti­mony of the plain­tiff U Kyaw San as well as tes­ti­mony from U Chit San, Daw Yi Yi Win, Daw Oh­n­mar Cho, Po­lice Lieu­tenant Myint Lwin and Ma Zin Mar Oo,” he said.

The legal of­fi­cer said that the ev­i­dence given by all these wit­nesses, along with po­lice records and other writ­ten state­ments, was suf­fi­cient to bring Mr Haytema to trial and have him an­swer for his ac­tions.

“It is clear that Mr Klaas Haytema en­tered the Dham­ma­ry­one wear­ing his shoes, thereby breach­ing sec­tion 295 of the pe­nal code. Mr Haytema has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­plain his ac­tions,” he said.

U Sithu Swe Tun also made sim­i­lar state­ments re­gard­ing the charges pend­ing against Mr Haytema un­der sec­tion 13(1) of the Im­mi­gra­tion Act, which re­quire a tourist’s ad­her­ence to Myan­mar’s laws and cus­toms.

When asked by the judge through an in­ter­preter whether he should be charged, Mr Haytema said that he had acted stupidly and did not know that it was a re­li­gious build­ing.

The judge in the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ings will de­cide to­day whether Mr Haytema’s case should pro­ceed to trial. If it does and he is found guilty, he could face up to two years’ im­pris­on­ment.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing two of­fi­cials from the Dutch em­bassy in Yan­gon were per­mit­ted to visit Mr Haytema in prison, to­gether with his girl­friend, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Leeuwarder Courant. It was the first time they were per­mit­ted to visit him.

“He’s do­ing well, given the cir­cum­stances,” a spokesper­son for the Dutch for­eign min­istry was quoted as say­ing.

‘It is clear that Mr Klaas Haytema en­tered the Dham­ma­ry­one wear­ing his shoes.’

U Sithu Swe Tun Town­ship legal of­fi­cer

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