Trial of Facebook poet carries on in Rangoon

Trial of Facebook poet carries on in Rangoon

Witnesses for the prosecution testified today in the ongoing trial of the poet Maung Saungkha, who has been held in Insein Prison since October 2015.

According to his lawyer, Kyithar Phong Myint, final arguments from both sides will take place tomorrow, and the judge’s decision on whether or not to charge the young activist with online defamation under Article 66(b) of the Criminal Code is expected next week.

The charges stem from a poem Maung Saungkha posted on his Facebook page last October, wherein he described shocking his wife by tattooing a picture of then-President Thein Sein on his private parts. After going underground for several weeks, during which time he posted several new, taunting poems directed at the police, he was arrested just days before the national election.

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While many observers expected the poet to be among the political prisoners released by the National League for Democracy government, which has freed more than 200 prisoners in the last several weeks, lawyer Kyithar Phong Myint said he’s “not surprised” that the trial continues to drag on.

Speaking to DVB, he said that the case’s notoriety, and the fact that many “top people” are interested in the outcome, will make it difficult for the government to overturn any decision by the court. “Right now, I don’t have much hope for his freedom,” said Kyithar Phone Myint.

If convicted, Maung Saungkha faces up to three years in prison.

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