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KNU leader granted amnesty

Karen National Union’s Central Committee member Mahn Nyein Maung, who was sentenced to life term in prison last week for treason, was released this morning after being granted amnesty by President Thein Sein.

The KNU official was sentenced on 13 March, but was pardoned under Act 401(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“It has been confirmed that [Mahn Nyein Maung] was released at 8am this morning under Act 401,” said the KNU leader’s lawyer Kyi Myint.

Mahn Nyeing Maung was taken into the Police’s Special Intelligence Department’s custody after his release; however, sources close to Insein prison authorities said he was going to be sent back to the Thai-Burma border.

During previous peace talks with the government, the KNU stressed that Mahn Nyein Maung’s release would help make way for future developments between the group and the state.

“We are happy and welcome the amnesty of Pado Mahn Nyein Maung,” said Naw Zipporah Sein, general secretary of the KNU. “It is necessary to release all political prisoners including Mahn Nyein Maung as we are holding talks [concerning] a ceasefire and peace.”

Burmese immigration officials at Yangon International Airport in Rangoon arrested Mahn Nyein Maung last July after he was deported from Kunming Airport in southern China. He was initially charged with violating immigration laws, carrying forged documents and unlawful association. The leader was then charged with treason after authorities learnt that he was a KNU Central Committee member.

The KNU leader’s release comes after hundreds of political prisoners have been granted amnesty during the past six months. However, human rights groups claim that political prisoners remain behind bars in prisons across Burma.

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