A lawyer for embattled Rakhine politician Aye Maung has said the plaintiff claims he filed the incitement and high treason charges at the instruction of his superiors.
“The plaintiff, Khin Maung Oo, said that he was not present to listen to [Aye Maung’s] speech in Rathedaung,” Aung Kyaw Sein, the defence lawyer representing Aye Maung, said following a hearing in the Rakhine State capital Sittwe on Wednesday.
Khin Maung Oo, the deputy district administrator for Sittwe, gave testimony at Wednesday’s hearing.
“The relevant authorities directed him to file charges against the defendant,” Aung Kyaw Sein added. “I cross-examined him by asking whether he actually went to the literary talk. He responded that he heard about what had been said in the speech from others. He admitted that he filed cases against the defendant just because his superiors asked him to do so.”
Aye Maung was arrested in January along with another man, after they gave speeches that authorities are alleging ran afoul of the law.
According to state media, Aye Maung “urged the people to take advantage of the weakness of the government and to march towards the goal of sovereignty,” at a speech delivered in Rathedaung on 15 January. A sitting lawmaker and avowed ethnic Rakhine nationalist, Aye Maung previously chaired the Arakan National Party, though last year his relationship with the political party frayed and he tendered his resignation in late November.
On the sidelines of Wednesday’s court hearing, Aye Maung said that lines from his January speech were taken out-of-context.
“The speech I delivered was not the same as what Chief Minister Nyi Pu claimed I did. … Those who are making accusations against me took the lines out-of-context to get the meaning that they wanted. I want the public to be aware of that,” Aye Maung told reporters.
Wednesday’s court proceedings addressed two of the three charges being brought against Aye Maung: sections 505 and 122 of the Penal code, for incitement and high treason, respectively.
Section 505 carries with it a maximum sentence of two years in prison if found guilty, while section 122, ostensibly, is a capital punishment crime, though Burma has not actually executed a convict in several years.