Mandalay Court Collects US$227,000 for American’s Bail in Cannabis Plantation Case
By Zarni Mann 3 March 2020
MANDALAY—The Myingyan District Court in Mandalay ordered a bail bondsman involved a prominent cannabis case to pay 325 million kyats (US$227,000) on Tuesday, as the US citizen involved in the case has failed to appear in court in violation of his bail.
Dr. Khin Maung Win, a bail bondsman for US citizen John Fredric Todoroki, appealed to the court to reduce the bail amount but the court ruled that the bail should be paid in full.
“I’ve transferred the money to the bank account of the court in Myingyan,” Dr. Khin Maung Win told The Irrawaddy after a court session on Tuesday. “The court said I could file another appeal to a higher court but I will not do it. Since I have the responsibility, I have to pay the bail money.”
The court issued an arrest warrant for Todoroki in February after he failed to attend court.
Todoroki was arrested in April 2019 along with two Myanmar nationals—Ko Shein Latt and Ma Shunlei Myat Noe—for operating an alleged marijuana plantation on about 20 acres of land owned by III M Global Nutraceutical Company at Myotha Industrial Park in Myingyan Township, Mandalay division.
The court granted Todoroki medical bail last July, as he was suffering from respiratory problems, and Dr. Khin Maung Win signed the assurance for the 325-million-kyat bail.
After he was granted bail, his lawyers asked the Mandalay Regional Court to drop the case as III M Global had official approval from the Mandalay regional government to grow industrial hemp on up to 60 acres of land and the seeds used were imported legally.
The regional court did not drop the case and returned it to the Myingyan District Court in December to continue hearings. Since then, the US citizen has failed to attend court and his lawyers said they have lost contact with him since November.
“Rather than losing my money, I think about how the farmers are losing the opportunities and income from industrial hemp,” said Dr. Khin Maung Win.
Todoroki faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. Five other US citizens—III M Global CEO Martin Chi Cheong Pun, Thomas Zeberlon, Grcoug Mercheius, Douglas Soe Lin and Todoroki’s son, Alexander Kemp Todoroki—are also wanted for alleged cannabis cultivation.
At the next hearing on March 10, the court is due to issue a final decision on the case of Ko Shein Latt, the manager of the alleged cannabis plantation, who faces a lawsuit under the Anti-Narcotics Law.
Ma Shunlei Myat Noe, who interned at the operation for less than one month, was freed in February after 10 months in prison as the court found she bore no responsibility for the alleged plantation.
Irrawaddy Reporter D Hlaing Win contributed to this story.
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