Solo demonstrator given 20-year sentence

Apr 3, 2008 (DVB), A 62-year-old activist who was arrested after staging a solo demonstration in front of the US embassy in August last year has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

U Ohn Than, who was arrested in Rangoon on 23 August 2007, was found guilty of defaming the government by the city's Western district court, according to central court lawyer U Aung Thein.

"He was found guilty of an attempt to defame the government because of the placards he was holding during his solo demonstration," Aung Thein said.

"He was given a fine of 1000 kyat and sentenced to 20 years in prison," he said.

"The court said he has the right to appeal the sentence."

Ohn Than defended himself during his trial, but has said he will enlist Aung Thein to represent him at his appeal.

Ohn Than was arrested in August for staging a protest outside the US embassy against fuel price hikes and the Chinese and Russian governments' use of their vetoes at the United Nations Security Council.

Prior to this, he had been arrested on six previous occasions for staging solo demonstrations.

He was given a year-long prison sentence for each of his first two protests, and detained for a short time after the other demonstrations.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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