Accused Bomber in Critical Condition

By Zarni Mann 22 May 2012

Phyo Wai Aung, an engineer who was sentenced to death by a Burmese court earlier this month for his alleged involvement in an April 2010 bombing that killed at least nine people, is being treated for advanced liver cancer in Insein General Hospital, according to family members.

“The doctors say his medical results show that he is in the final stage of liver cancer and is suffering from ascites,” his brother Htet Wai Aung told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. “They say he may only have about a month to live.”

According to his family, Phyo Wai Aung has hepatitis B and suffered from jaundice before he was arrested. Human rights groups claim that he was also tortured after his arrest, further complicating his health problems.

“We told the authorities many times after he was arrested that he needed regular treatment and should receive proper health care, but they ignored us. If they had given him the medical attention he needed, he would not be suffering like this now,” said Htet Wai Aung.

The family says that Phyo Wai Aung is now unable to lie down or sleep due to severe abdominal pain, and should be transferred to Rangoon General Hospital for further treatment.

A special closed court found Phyo Wai Aung guilty of murder and sentenced him to death on May 8. The court also handed down several other sentences, including life imprisonment and prison time with hard labor, for a variety of other offenses related to his alleged role in the bombing of a pavilion during the Burmese New Year’s water festival on April 15, 2010.

One of the charges against him—violation of the Unlawful Association Act—relates to allegations that he was acting in cooperation with dissident groups based in Thailand.

As his health rapidly deteriorates, relatives of Phyo Wai Aung say they have sent a letter to the UN’s special envoy on human rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, urging him to intervene on their behalf to help clear his name.

“Please help us in fighting to prove that he is innocent and to get his justice before he dies,” the letter says.