Jailed car crash ‘rescuers’ denied appeal

A husband and wife jailed on charges of ‘disturbing government officials’ after they assisted the victim of a Rangoon car crash have been denied appeal.

The couple, both members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party who are now reported to be in poor health, have been held in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison since their sentencing in early May.

They were arrested after becoming embroiled in an argument with a doctor at the hospital in Tontay township, in southern Rangoon division, following the hospital’s refusal to treat the car crash victim, Thidar Win. The hospital had demanded Thidar Win pay the cost of fuel for a generator to power the x-ray machine, which she claims she could not afford. She was the kicked out of the hospital.

The husband, Zaw Min Htun, was charged under Act 353 of disturbing a government official on duty, and given a one-year sentence. His wife, Sandar, was given an additional charge of ‘intimidation’ and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Both have now had an appeal over their sentencing rejected by a district court, their daughter, Thaint Thaint Thu, said. Judges told them at a hearing on 25 June that they will serve their full terms.

“They both are in poor health,” Thaint Thaint Thu told DVB. “[Zaw Min Htun] has stomach problems and [Sandar] has liver and heart problems and she is kept alone in a jail cell.”

The accident happened in November last year. Thidar Win’s family attempted to sue the hospital, but the case was rejected. The victim said she was then coerced into joining the prosecution team as a witness, but defected to the defence side during the initial trial in February.

She said that she was then threatened by Tontay’s deputy police chief, Naing Linn Htun, after her statement at the court in February. “[Police] said the couple were political activists rebelling against the state and that I would be imprisoned if I see the couple again,” she said. “Naing Linn Htun said he had put me under surveillance.”

Their daughter, Thaint Thaint Thu, said she will now take the appeal to Rangoon divisional court. The Burmese government often uses spurious charges to clamp down on NLD members, while courts in Burma have been accused of being puppets of the ruling regime.

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