Twenty Arakanese locals standing accused of unlawful association with rebel group the Arakan Army appeared in Kyauktaw township court for their second hearing on 4 June, with a military official telling the court none of the defendants had been tortured in detention.
Oo Tun Hla, defence lawyer for the group, told DVB that the court heard testimony from Capt. Min Aung Naing of the Burmese army for the prosecution.
“The twenty are all facing charges under Article 17(1)* of the Unlawful Association Act in three separate cases – one involving 10 individuals, the other involving seven, and the last one with three.
“The court spent much of the Tuesday hearing on the case involving seven and rescheduled hearings for the two other cases for 11 June,” said Oo Tun Hla.
Capt. Min Aung Naing of the Kyauktaw-based 9th Military Operations Command initially handed to local police over 30 locals detained across Arakan State for alleged connection with the rebels. He also handed over confessions that had been gathered by the military.
Oo Tun Hla said the captain testified that the suspects had not been tortured in military interrogation, although the lawyer says that some of his clients had received hospital treatment for injuries sustained after their arrests.
“The military officer claimed they did not torture the suspects and that interrogation was conducted in accordance with regulations, but we cross-examined him, showing my clients’ injuries and he seemed a bit baffled,” said Oo Tun Hla.
Over the past month, dozens of suspects have been rounded up by military officials from areas including Kyauktaw, Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Ponnakyun, Rathedaung, Kyaukphyu, Mrauk-U, Myebon, Minbya and Paletwa townships after fighting broke out in the area between the Arakan Army and government forces at the end of March.
*Article 17(1) for making an unlawful association