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Eleven Karen youths appeared in court yesterday for their first hearing after being charged in October last year under the Explosives Act.
The hearing was held at the closed court inside Rangoon’s Insein prison, where media is banned. They are accused of plotting a bomb attack, but their lawyer Kyaw Ho, who claims not to have been given a copy of the case report, says it is unclear which specific incident the court is referring to.
Amongst the eleven are a brother and sister, Saw Naing Win and Aye Aye New, who are also alleged to have breached Burma’s strict Immigration Act and Unlawful Associations Act.
Delays over the handing of case reports to defence teams are commonly reported in Burma, where critics regularly question the independence of the courts.
That concern was heightened last week after the appointing of Tun Tun Oo to the position of chief justice, the most senior-ranking judicial post in Burma. He was personally nominated by President Thein Sein, a close ally of junta chief Than Shwe, and is on the EU visa ban and asset freeze list.
Kyaw Ho said meanwhile that Insein prison had released a statement qualifying its reasons for placing Phyo Wei Aung, who has been charged with murder for his alleged role in a series of grenade attacks in Rangoon in April last year, in solitary confinement.
“The prison’s jailer showed me the notice which said Phyo Wei Aung had violated the prison’s regulations, interfered with the prison’s management, incited other inmates and wrongly accused prison officials,” he told DVB.
As a result, he was placed in solitary on 4 February for the duration of one month and is denied prison visits, he continued, adding however that his client had denied all accusations against him.
“He said he only had a problem with one prison official, the director who ignored his request to meet with him to report about senior inmates bullying the regulars [common criminals]… He mentioned this to his wife and they overheard him and punished him for that.”
Phyo Wei Aung is facing a raft of charges for the 15 April 2010 grenade attacks on revellers in Rangoon 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.