Burmese courts ‘breaching domestic law’

Denial of legal aid and detention without charge for the man arrested in connection to a series of grenade attacks in Rangoon in April is in violation of Burmese domestic law, his lawyer has said.

Phyo Wei Aung was initially held in Rangoon’s Insein prison on a 14-day remand after being arrested on 23 April, although the remand appears to have been extended. Police claim he was behind the bombings on 15 April that left nine dead and hundreds injured, although no charges have been brought.

His lawyer told DVB that he tried to meet with his client on 21 June but was denied access. Kyaw Ho is apparently yet be given approval by the government’s intelligence branch to speak with Phyo Wei Aung, but said the restriction breaches Burmese domestic law. It is the fourth time he has requested permission to see his client.

“There was no reason given for not allowing the meeting,” he said. “His detention is also not in accordance with the law which states that a person cannot be detained for more than 30 days [without charge], even if facing a charge that can be penalised by the death sentence.”

The lawyer said that his client is likely to be brought before the court on 28 June when his remand expires. Phyo Wei Aung is accused by the government of being a member of the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors, stormed the Burmese embassy in Bangkok in 1999 and took 38 hostages.

Htay Htay, wife of Phyo Wei Aung, said he has been denied medical assistance and not allowed to exercise since his arrest. Furthermore, prison authorities have allegedly ignored his requests to see a doctor.

She said the prison also refused to hand him a copy of the state-run Myanmar Ahlin newspaper issue which carried a report on Burma police chief Khin Yi’s press conference on the bombing.

“[Phyo Wei Aung] said he wanted to read about the conference in the newspaper so I sent it [to the prison] about three weeks ago, but he didn’t receive it. So I took another copy [on Monday] and was told that newspapers will not be allowed,” she said.

“I complained that the newspaper was a legally published material but [the prison officials] said the government ones are not allowed.”

Police said that three grenades had been thrown into the crowds who were celebrating the annual water festival close to Rangoon’s Kandawgyi lake. Another device, made with a beer can filled with explosive powder and attached by detonation wire to a mobile telephone, failed to explode.

Meanwhile, a father and son arrested after photographing the aftermath of the grenade attacks are also being held in Insein prison and are yet to be convicted of any offense.

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