Min Htay, a central committee member of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) who was charged under the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act, was acquitted by the Momeik Township Court in Shan State on Friday.
At his 27th hearing in a trial that has lasted more than eight months, the judge ruled on Friday that Min Htay was innocent of the allegations levelled against him. He was accused of associating with the Kachin Independence Army, an ethnic armed group that has not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and is considered by the government to be an illegal organisation.
“The judge backed his decision [by noting] that the ABSDF base has been in the KIA [Kachin Independence Army] area of control since after 1988 — many years before the NCA [Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement] was signed. The ABSDF has already signed the NCA and it has been removed from the list of unlawful associations,” said Nann Yin, Min Htay’s spouse.
“The seized photographs alone cannot prove that he works for an unlawful association. Other senior officials also have contact with the groups [that are considered ‘unlawful’]. It is not likely that Min Htay is working for the KIA. One cannot press charges against another without firm evidence. For that reason, he was acquitted of the charges.”
A leading member of the ABSDF, Min Htay is also known for his role playing a ruthless Tatmadaw officer in “Rambo,” the fourth instalment of the Hollywood action movie series starring Sylvester Stallone.
“I am happy [that Min Htay was acquitted],” his wife told DVB. “He was in jail for eight months. Since we are going along the path toward peace, I do not want to comment more on that. I welcome that the court acquitted him and ruled in a just manner during such a period of trust-building.”
Min Htay was arrested on 28 December, spending nearly 250 days in prison prior to his acquittal.