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Corruption within Burma’s judicial system exposed

An investigation by DVB Multimedia Group (DVB) into alleged malpractices within the Burmese judicial system exposes how court procedures are manipulated using false evidence and documents.

Many people in Burma have been vociferous in complaining about rampant corruption within the government and the bureaucracy. Transparency International ranks Burma in its annual index as 157th out of 177 countries in levels of corruption. Thura Aung Ko from the Lower Parliament’s Complaints Committee declared that over 90 percent of the complaints his committee receives are related to cases of corrupt practices within the judiciary.

Until now, there has not been a conclusive media investigation that has exposed these malpractices within the Burmese courts.

DVB spent four months investigating a particular civil case regarding a plot of land in Hlegu Township, Rangoon Division, with a current market value of approximately US$1.5 million. The case, titled “Civil Case Number 416 and 417”, was filed at Rangoon Divisional Court in April 2010.

The case concerns the transfer of ownership of the plot to Lyaung Ngut Lin (alias San San Yi). The defendant, Win Tun, was appointed caretaker of the land by the original owner, Li Yawn Kyin – a Kokang Chinese who is believed to have died in 2008-09 during fighting between government forces and Kokang troops.

San San Yi testified that she is the lawful wife of Li Yawn Kyin and so filed the case to claim ownership of the land. An ex parte court ruling was pronounced in favour of the plaintiff in October 2010 by Justice Lay Lay Mon, now a judge at Mandalay High Court.


DVB’s investigation unveiled that the judge’s unilateral decision in favour of San San Yi was based purely on false evidence and forged documents provided by the plaintiff. The court failed to conduct even the most rudimentary examination to check the accuracy of plaintiff’s evidence.

But now it comes to light that San San Yi mistakenly filed the incorrect plot numbers for the land she was claiming. A new case has now been opened and San San Yi is claiming ownership for the correct plot numbers.

DVB’s evidence of forgery and falsification could now affect the legitimacy of her claim.

The case continues.


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