Court bars Rangoon bomber’s family

The family of a Rangoon man charged with murder for the April water festival bombings was yesterday denied entry to his court hearing.

Phyo Wei Aung’s lawyer, Kyaw Ho, said that despite the family being given permission by the judge to attend the session, a township-level Burmese intelligence official, Soe Soe Thein, blocked entry.

“The family had to stay outside [the courtroom] as Soe Soe Thein denied them from attending the hearing. The judge had made it clear that the court is an open place and anyone is permitted to attend the hearing,” said Kyaw Ho.

Phyo Wei Aung is facing a raft of charges for the 15 April grenade attacks on revellers on that killed nine and left hundreds injured. As well being accused of murder, he is being charged under the Unlawful Association Act, the Immigration Act, the Explosives Act and the Electronics Act.

Kyaw Ho said he was also preparing to demand an official investigation into allegations that his client was physically and mentally tortured during interrogation.

“[ Phyo Wei Aung] said he was forced to confess under physical and mental torture. He wanted to file a complaint on that and we will seek permission from the prison authorities. He will request that senior government officials open an investigation.”

The lawyer said that he finally managed to get a hold of the copy of Phyo Wei Aung’s case file yesterday. The next court hearing has been scheduled for 22 July.

The Burmese government claims he is a member of the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors, which stormed the Burmese embassy in Bangkok in 1999 and took 38 hostages.

Three separate grenade attacks hit the X20 pavilion in Rangoon on 15 April, as revellers celebrated the Thingyan festival. It was the most deadly attack on Rangoon in half a decade.

The father and son arrested after taking photographs of the aftermath of the grenade attacks are still being held in Rangoon’s Insein prison. Maung Maung Zeya and Sithu Zeya are being charged under the Unlawful Association Act and the Electronics Act.

Meanwhile, Kyaw Zin Lin, a political inmate in Insein prison, was last week reportedly beaten by prison wardens for bathing in a water tank reserved only for inmates who had paid money to prison authorities.

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