Court Verdict Looms for Disgraced Party Leader in Myanmar

By Htun Htun 27 October 2020

Yangon — The controversial leader of the disbanded United Democratic Party (UDP) is likely to face a verdict soon as the prosecutor and defendant are due to submit their closing arguments on Nov. 3.

Michael Kyaw Myint or Michael Hua Hu faces prosecution under the Fugitive Act for his escape from prison in 1999 after he was convicted of money laundering. At the hearing on Monday, only one witness for the defense testified as the defendant withdrew five witnesses.

U Kyaw Myo Win, the Chanayethazan Township judge, told The Irrawaddy: “As the two sides will present their closing argument, it is likely that I can deliver the verdict soon.”

Defense lawyer U Nay Lin Tun said: “U Kyaw Myint told us to withdraw the witnesses, so we did.”

He faces two years in prison and the remaining original prison term.

Five witnesses, including police officers and immigration officials, also testified on Monday over his charges under Article 13(1) of the Immigration Law as he crossed by into Thailand after his prison escape and later illegally reentered from China. More witnesses are scheduled to testify on Nov. 3.

The law carries jail terms of six months to five years.

He has been under police detention since late last month on a fugitive warrant. Since then he has been under investigation by a special police unit.

According to the ongoing investigation, he allegedly breached Myanmar’s Anti-Money Laundering Law for receiving 16.3 billion kyats (around US$16 million) in 2015 via illegal money transfers in Muse, Shan State. The cash transfers were made by Chinese citizens in Ruili and Jiegao engaged in illegal transfers, according to the President’s Office in Naypyitaw.

Government spokesman U Zaw Htay said the citizenship ID number U Kyaw Myint used in his application to chair the UDP belonged to a man in Shan State’s Kutkai Township. He has also allegedly funded the UDP with illegal transactions, a violation of the Political Party Registration Law. As a result, the Union Election Commission disbanded his party.

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