Lawyer ad­vises jailed Dutch­man to ap­peal

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - THAN NAING SOE thannaing­soe@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar

The Myan­mar Le­gal Aid Net­work chair has en­cour­aged Klaas Haytema to ap­peal his three-month sen­tence for dis­rupt­ing a Bud­dhist ser­mon.

THE chair of the Myan­mar Le­gal Aid Net­work has en­cour­aged Klaas Haytema to ap­peal a re­cent ver­dict handed down to the Dutch na­tional after he sparked out­rage by un­plug­ging an am­pli­fier that was broad­cast­ing a Bud­dhist ser­mon.

“If he ap­peals to the Man­dalay Dis­trict Court, his jail term may be re­duced or he may be re­leased,” said U Hla Ko, the le­gal or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chair.

Mr Haytema was sen­tenced to three months in prison on Oc­to­ber 6. The am­pli­fier in­ci­dent oc­curred on the evening of Septem­ber 23 in Maha Aung Myay town­ship, Man­dalay Re­gion, with the Dutch tourist later telling a court he had pulled the plug in sleepy frus­tra­tion over its high-deci­bel ren­der­ing of a dhamma ser­mon.

“There have been ex­am­ples of Chi­nese peo­ple hav­ing been re­leased and also the peo­ple who put ear­phones on the Bud­dha’s ears were re­leased,” U Hla Ko said, re­fer­ring to the high-pro­file case of New Zealan­der Phil Black­wood and two Myan­mar busi­ness part­ners, who were given two-year prison sen­tences on charges of in­sult­ing re­li­gion but were re­leased early in a Jan­uary amnesty. The trio earned the ire of Bud­dhist na­tion­al­ists in 2014 after a pro­mo­tional flyer for their bar cir­cu­lated on­line de­pict­ing an im­age of the Bud­dha wear­ing head­phones, set against a psy­che­delic back­ground.

U Hla Ko said he holds copies of Mr Haytema’s ver­dict in both Myan­mar and English lan­guages, which were tran­scribed at the re­quest of the con­victed man’s fam­ily. A de­ci­sion on whether to ap­peal would ul­ti­mately be up to the de­fen­dant and his fam­ily, U Hla Ko added.

Mr Haytema, 30, was found guilty un­der the pe­nal code’s sec­tion 296 – dis­turb­ing a reli­gious assem­bly – for his con­duct last month, which played out at the Thusarita Dham­may­one com­mu­nity hall, lo­cated near the ho­tel where he was stay­ing.

He had been charged with sec­tion 295, cov­er­ing “deliberate and ma­li­cious acts in­tended to out­rage reli­gious feel­ings”, a more se­ri­ous of­fence for which he had faced a pos­si­ble twoyear prison sen­tence, as was Mr Black­wood’s fate.

At the hear­ing last week de­liv­er­ing his ver­dict, how­ever, the judge said sec­tion 296 was the more ap­pro­pri­ate charge.

Mr Haytema was also fined K100,000 (US$80) on a re­lated im­mi­gra­tion charge.

Photo: AFP

Klass Haytema is es­corted by po­lice in Man­dalay on Oc­to­ber 6, after the court handed down a guilty ver­dict.

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