Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Four men given 10 years’ jail over Mandalay conflict killing

Amid protests and accusations of torture by police, four men have been sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour for a murder committed during Mandalay’s inter-communal violence of July 2014.

The mother of Ko Kyaw Zin Htet, one of four men sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for murdering U Soe Min Htwe in July, stands beside police outside court on October 14. (Si Thu Lwin/The Myanmar Times)The mother of Ko Kyaw Zin Htet, one of four men sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for murdering U Soe Min Htwe in July, stands beside police outside court on October 14. (Si Thu Lwin/The Myanmar Times)

Mandalay district court found that Kyaw Zin Htet, Nyan Htay, Poe Zaw and Zin Min Tun had murdered U Soe Min Htwe on July 1.

A lawyer for the accused announced immediately after the verdict that he would launch an appeal. “The evidence against them was their bloodstained shirts and bloodstained sticks. But it was never established in court that the blood belonged to the victim. The real murderer is still at large,” he told The Myanmar Times.

Police barred family members and journalists from the courtroom and posted security officers in the court compound. Daw Zin Mar Aye, the mother of Ko Kyaw Zin Htet, described the hearing as “absolutely unfair”.

“My son was at home the whole night when the clashes occurred,” she said. “While they detained my son in custody, they mistreated him during the interrogation. They forced him to kneel after placing a plum stone under his knee. When he still refused to confess, they forced him to sign his name on a plain sheet of paper, and then wrote what they wanted.”

The four accused departing from the court after hearing the judge’s verdict (Sithu Lwin)The four accused departing from the court after hearing the judge’s verdict (Sithu Lwin)

Daw Zin Mar Aye waged a 30-minute solo protest against the proceedings on October 10 in Chan Aye Thar San township.

One of the accused told The Myanmar Times as he left court that he believed the judge’s decision was “not fair”.

“I am praying that in my afterlife, I won’t come back as a citizen of a country like Myanmar, where a court can sentence someone to imprisonment without evidence,” he said.

Two people were killed and about 20 people injured in the clashes in Mandalay in early July. The case of the second victim, Ko Tun Tun, a member of the Free Funeral Service Society, is still proceeding against 11 accused.

Translation by Thiri Min Htun