Detainees cleared of USDA threat charges

Nov 5, 2007 (DVB), Three of the nine people imprisoned in October for threatening the Union and Solidarity Development Association have now been released, according to family members.

Khin Ma Gyi, Khin Ma Lay, Nyan Sein were released on Friday after the Mandalay divisional court quashed their convictions for intimidation.

Khin Ma Gyi and Khin Ma Lay are daughters of Than Lwin, a National League for Democracy member and elected member of parliament from Maddaya township, Mandalay, who was attacked with a knuckle-duster in June. Nyan Sein is Than Lwin's son-in-law.

Along with six other family members and colleagues of Than Lwin, the three were charged with intimidation after reportedly threatening to burn down the USDA office and kill Than Lwin's assailant, who had fled into the building after the attack.

Nyo Gyi, the Maddaya NLD deputy chairman, was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for the offence, while the other eight were each given five years.

Zaw Min Lwin, Than Lwin's son, has now had his jail term reduced from five years to one, as did the four other NLD members.

Nyo Gyi's sentence of seven years remains unchanged.

The group's lawyer, Myint Thwin, said he was contacted by Mandalay divisional court on Thursday and instructed to prepare an appeal for the next day.

The court came to its decision at around 1pm on Friday after he had presented his case.

During the appeal, prosecution witnesses testified that only Nyo Gyi had made any kind of threat at the USDA office, and two of these witnesses, including a police officer who accompanied the group to the USDA office, said that none of the defendants had said anything intimidating.

Khin Ma Gay was released from Kalay prison, Sagaing division, Khin Ma Lay from Myin Chan prison and Nyan Sein from Khande prison.

All the detainees were originally held in (New) Mandalay prison after being sentenced on 5 October, but on 22 October they were dispersed to different prisons around the country, which made it difficult for family members to visit them.

Than Lwin's wife Khin Mar Thi was relieved to hear the news of the releases, but remained worried about her other family members.

"They're still on the way back home now because they're travelling from different places. I'm relieved to hear that they've been released, but I'm still worried about my husband and son," Khin Mar Thi said.

Than Lwin was arrested on 2 October, and his family still does not know where he is being held.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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