Mandalay Journalist Sentenced on Police Assault Charges

By Tin Htet Paing 6 June 2016

RANGOON— A Mandalay-based journalist working for the BBC’s Burmese language news service was sentenced on police assault charges to three months’ imprisonment with hard labor by Mandalay’s Chanmyathazi Township court on Monday.

Forty-year-old reporter Nay Myo Lin was charged with Article 332 of Burma’s Penal Code, which covers “voluntarily causing hurt to deter [a] public servant from his duty,” and carries a punishment of up to three years in prison or a fine.

The initial complaint was filed by Lance Corporal Ba Maw over an alleged altercation between the policeman and the journalist during a demonstration last year. The 2015 protest was held by several dozen Mandalay-based students and activists demanding the release of those arrested in “the Letpadan crackdown,” in which students were imprisoned in Pegu Division for demonstrating against Burma’s controversial National Education Law.

According to a claim made by police, authorities tried to stop protesters on motorbikes and caused several drivers to fall. Nay Myo Lin was among those who were caught up in the accident, after which he allegedly hit one of the officers.

Defense lawyer Thein Than Oo told The Irrawaddy that the jail term was an unexpected punishment as the court could have chosen to impose a monetary penalty instead.

“Three months’ imprisonment is too much,” he said. “He was caught up in a complicated collision and supposedly hit an officer [by] accident.”

The lawyer said that the reporter has the right to lodge an appeal against the conviction, and that he will act on Nay Myo Lin’s behalf after hearing from the family.

Nay Myo Lin is the husband of Zarni Mann, a Mandalay-based reporter for The Irrawaddy.