Phyo Wei Aung: ‘I was tortured’

Phyo Wei Aung: ‘I was tortured’

After being pardoned on Friday, DVB’s Naw Noreen spoke with Phyo Wei Aung, who had previously been found guilty of masterminding the bombings in Rangoon during Buddhist New Year in April 2010 and is now suffering through the final stages of liver cancer.

Is there anything would you like to say about the bombing charges that you were convicted of?

I am going to clear those up – I’m planning to hold a press conference in a couple of months and I will present the testimonies from the prosecution’s witnesses from my case.

Did you have anything to do with the bombings?

Not at all.

You were incarcerated for a very long time and are now chronically ill. Do you have anything to say to the prison authorities?

I have talked about health care quite bit.

I have a plan to offer constructive suggestions to [prevent people] from ending up like I did.

So we were pardoned under Article 401 [of the Criminal Procedure Code] – which pardons those convicted of crimes. Do you still plan to appeal your conviction?

I will on the 14th [of August] in Naypyidaw.

Were you given a free and fair trial?

Absolutely not. I was even denied some rights written clearly and precisely in the Burmese language.

How were you interrogated while incarcerated?

I was tortured in various methods at Aungthabyay [a notorious interrogation centre in Rangoon]. I was mostly beaten up – they’d told me to confess to the crime and would beat me if I didn’t. But then they’d still beat me even when I [talked].

Were you allowed to make a statement during the trial?

Without a lawyer, I had to testify in my own defence for all four [indictments] I was charged with. I had six court hearings. In the end, the judge called if off before I had given my full account. I had too many things to say but I wasn’t even allowed to give a statement.

How did your arrest impact your family?

A lot. Honestly, I’m just a common engineer. I’m a contractor, not a politician. I live in peace and mind my own business. This is the first horrible experience I’ve had.

Why do you think you were charged if you were innocent?

I assume that one individual suspected of being behind the bombing happened to be my friend. He is a fellow engineer and we had worked together for about six years in Rangoon. The bombs went off in April and in January before that, I met him when he came to visit Rangoon.

Initially, [the authorities] didn’t arrest me – apparently they just had some questions about a phone call. But then, all the suspects went into hiding and then they turned me into a [scapegoat] because one of the suspects was a friend of mine but I was the only one could get.

Why do you think you were freed?

I think this was for Mr Quintana and several organisations that have been calling for my release and also due to my very bad health.

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