Car crash ‘rescuer’ freed, wife remains

A man handed a one-year sentence last May after he and his wife came to the aid of a car crash victim in Rangoon division has been released from Insein prison.

Zaw Min Htun, a member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), walked free on 6 May. His wife, Sandar, also an NLD member, will however be forced to see out her 18-month sentence in the remote Putao prison near Burma’s far-northern border with China.

They were arrested after becoming embroiled in an argument with a doctor at the hospital in Tontay township, southern Rangoon division, following the hospital’s refusal to treat the car crash victim, Thidar Win.

Doctors there had demanded Thidar Win pay the cost of fuel for a generator to power the x-ray machine, which she claimed she could not afford. She was then kicked out of the hospital.

Zaw Min Htun was charged with ‘disturbing government officials’, while Sandar was given an additional charge of ‘intimidation’. Subsequent appeals by their daughter were dismissed by judges.

Thidar Win’s family had attempted to sue the hospital, but the case was rejected. The victim said she was then coerced into joining the prosecution team as a witness, but defected to the defence side during the initial trial in February 2010.

The release comes as a petition circulates Burma’s urban hubs calling for the release of the country’s nearly 2,100 political prisoners, although reports have surfaced of campaigners being harassed by police.

Burma’s judicial system has been criticised for its apparent lack of independence from the ruling regime, as well as its outright targeting of opposition figures.

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