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A preliminary hearing for a former child soldier accused of possibly inciting the public for telling his story of forced conscription as a minor was postponed on Friday as the defendant’s lawyer asked the court for more time to prepare for the case.
The trial at the Dagon Seikkan Township Court in Rangoon pits plaintiff Lieutenant Colonel Myo Myint Aung against 26-year-old former child soldier Aung Ko Htwe. The plaintiff’s lawyer on Friday agreed to the defence’s request and a court date has been rescheduled for next week.
“The next hearing will be held on 8 September and the judge will question the plaintiff,” said the defendant’s lawyer, Zaw Min Hlaing. He told reporters he needed more time to study the details of the case, including the specifics of the plaintiff’s grievance.
Aung Ko Htwe was arrested on 18 August after the military lodged a criminal complaint over an interview he gave with Radio Free Asia’s Burmese-language service about his life as a child soldier, forced into the Tatmadaw as a teenager.
Nay Zar Htun, a sister of Aung Ko Htwe, said her brother’s health was a concern. Family members are worried about how he is faring behind bars because he suffers from heart problems, she said.
“My brother is an innocent young man. He didn’t break any laws. … We will protest against the military at the next hearing,” she said.
Section 505(b) of the penal code criminalises anyone who “makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against public tranquillity.”
Aung Ko Htwe faces up to two years in prison if convicted.