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Censor and editor give evidence at poet's trial

Jul 9, 2008 (DVB), Poet Saw Wai appeared at Insein prison court yesterday for the third time defending himself against accusations of violating section 505(b) of the penal code, according to his wife Ma Nan San San Aye.

Saw Wai was arrested on 22 January after his poem, "February 14th", which was published in the weekly Achit Journal, was found to have a hidden anti-government message.

He is now being charged with distributing information that could cause public alarm or incite offences against the public tranquility.

Nan San San Aye said a state censor and the journal's editor gave evidence at the hearing yesterday.

"An official from the censor board testified in the court hearing that the original poem was 12 lines long and it was turned down by the board. When it appeared later in the weekly journal it was only 8 lines," Nan San San Aye said.

"The journal’s editor Myat Khin testified that the censor board had only notified their office of the rejection of the poem by phone and that he forgot to let other people in the office know about it," she went on.

"When the judge asked him what sort of action was taken in the journal office after the incident, he replied that the journal had suspended publication for one week."

The chief editor of the journal also had to sign an agreement promising not to let this kind of incident happen again.

Nan San San Aye has previously reported claims by Saw Wai that Myat Khin was aware that the censor board had turned down the poem but decided to publish it anyway to increased sales of the journal.

Nan San San Aye said Saw Wai, who has been suffering from a hernia, has already been in the prison hospital several times.

An appeal letter has been sent on the poet's behalf to prison authorities requesting proper medical attention.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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