Burma

Abbot of Yay Pu Monastery Found Guilty of Forestry Offense

By Zarni Mann 18 May 2016

PYIN OO LWIN, Mandalay Division — A court here has ordered U Eindaka from Mandalay Division’s Mogok Township to pay a 20,000 kyats fine (US$17) or spend three months in prison under Burma’s Forestry Law, with the fine paid by his supporters following the verdict on Wednesday.

U Eindaka, the abbot of the Yay Pu Monastery in Mogok widely known as “Yay Pu Sayadaw,” was arrested in June of last year, charged with multiple counts in connection with his attempt to restore the monastery and rebuild an old pagoda inside the building’s compound. The court ruled Wednesday that he had run afoul of the Forestry Law by illegally possessing timber for the monastery renovation.

“Although the court found Sayadaw guilty of illegally possessing the timber piled at his monastery, the court decided to give him the lightest sentence,” said the judge of the Pyin Oo Lwin Township Court, at the abbot’s hearing on Wednesday.

Faced with the choice, U Eindaka had intended to take the prison sentence.

“I will not pay a fine because I’m not guilty,” he told supporters outside the courthouse. “I have to say, the judicial system of our country is still not reforming.”

However, supporters of the abbot collected enough money to pay the fine.

“We don’t want our Sayadaw to be in prison anymore. Although he didn’t want to pay the fine, we will provide it because we want his freedom,” said Soe Htay, one such supporter.

U Eindaka was initially also charged with religious defamation and of an offense under Burma’s Mining Law, the latter for digging up earth around the area where he intended to rebuild the pagoda. He was defrocked as a result of the charges.

In April, the court dropped the religious defamation charge as part of a broader presidential amnesty.

His trial for the remaining Mining Law offense will continue on Thursday at the Pyin Oo Lwin District Court.

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