Accused Thingyan Bomber Pardoned

By Nyein Nyein 3 August 2012

Phyo Wai Aung, an engineer who was sentenced to death in May for allegedly carrying out a bombing during Burma’s Thingyan water festival in 2010, has been released from custody after receiving a pardon from President Thein Sein.

The move comes four days after the UN’s special rights envoy for Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, met with Phyo Wai Aung on July 30 during his latest visit to the country.

Phyo Wai Aung
Phyo Wai Aung

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Friday, Phyo Wai Aung said he always believed he would be freed one day because the allegations against him were completely false.

“I was arrested mistakenly,” he said.

Phyo Wai Aung was arrested on April 23, 2010, for his alleged involvement in a spate of bombings at the Thingyan water festival in Rangoon earlier that month. The explosions killed at least 10 people and injured around 100 others.

During his subsequent interrogation, he was allegedly tortured and has since suffered from a variety of health problems. He was sentenced to death at a closed trial in May and two days later admitted to Insein General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

When asked to comment on his treatment and the trial proceedings, he said that the system was at fault and declined to point any fingers.

Htay Htay, Phyo Wai Aung’s wife, said she was informed of her husband’s pardon two hours before his release.

“The chief warden told me to come to the hospital at about 10 o’clock this morning because they were planning to release him,” she said. “He read out the president’s order, which said that Ko Phyo Wai Aung would be freed under Section 401 [of the Criminal Procedure Code].”

Due to his rapidly deteriorating health, which went largely untreated until May, Phyo Wai Aung now suffers from paralysis of the lower half of his body. His family said their next step would be to transfer him to Rangoon General Hospital, where he can receive treatment from liver specialists.

“His health condition needs urgent medical attention and closer care,” said his brother, Dr Htet Wai Aung.