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NLD member sentenced to four years

Dec 12, 2007 (DVB), Taunggok National League for Democracy secretary U Khin Hla was sentenced to over four years in prison after his sister brought charges against him, according to a Taunggok NLD member.

U Khin Hla's sister filed charges of obscenity, threatening behaviour and damage to property against him after a family dispute.

He was brought before the court on 28 November and found guilty of three offences, receiving a total sentence of four years and three months.

He was given two years for property damage under section 427, another two years for criminal intimidation under section 506, and three months for obscenity under section 294 of the penal code, the maximum sentence in all three cases.

The sentence was passed by Taunggok township court secondary judge Daw Than Than Sint at 5.30 that afternoon.

His sister tried to withdraw the charges when she realised the consequences for U Khin Hla, but was told by officials that it was too late.

The Taunggok NLD member said that government officials had pressured for the case to be brought to court immediately, despite an electricity cut.

"Due to pressure from the authorities he was called to the township court at 8am and they heard the case until 5.30, but there was an electricity shortage so they had to light candles," he said.

"They put him in Sandoway prison at 8.30 that evening, but the electricity was still out then so they had to turn on the generators," he said.

U Khin Hla has been held in Sandoway prison since he was sentenced.

The Taunggok NLD member said U Khin Hla's punishment was disproportionate to the offence.

"Giving him such a long prison sentence over this small case is not according to the law," he said.

U Khin Hla's lawyer has said he will appeal the conviction.

U Khin Hla was one of a group of NLD party members who started a demonstration on 4 September when they marched to the police station to demand information on two activists who had been arrested the previous week after a protest over high fuel prices.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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