NLD chairman sentenced to two years' hard labour

Sep 18, 2008 (DVB), San Chaung township National League for Democracy chairman U Thet Wei has been sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour.

Thet Wei was arrested after he attended a court hearing for U Aung Than on 6 January and was spotted by police accepting a letter from the defendant detailing his treatment in prison.

Police searched Thet Wei's property and seized a memory stick containing information about child soldiers and human rights abuses that was to be passed to the International Labour Organisation.

He was originally arrested on charges of leaking sensitive information and of obstructing a public official under section 359 of the penal code, but only the latter charge went to court.

Thet Wei was bailed for nine months after an ILO delegation spoke out about his arrest but was brought before the court on 16 September and sentenced.

He has previously been arrested about five times due to his political activities.

Kari Tapiola of the ILO said that Thet Wei had been one other organisation's facilitators and noted that the case had been linked to his relations with the ILO.

"The ILO is extremely disappointed," Tapiola said.

"We need to see the exact motivations but a sentence against somebody who has been involved in our complaints mechanism and where there has been a link with the ILO is very disappointing," he continued.

"We will make our disappointment clear to the government and no doubt we will ask for his release and a review of the sentence."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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