Myanmar Junta Brings Fresh Charges Against NLD Vice Chair

By The Irrawaddy 24 November 2021

Myanmar’s military regime has brought two additional charges against Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, Mandalay Chief Minister under the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government, alleging abuse of power to influence the vote in the 2020 general election.

The detained minister, who is battling leukemia and is also an NLD Vice Chair, faces two new cases under Section 171(f) and Section 130(a) of the Penal Code, which have been filed at Amarapura Township Court and Aungmyaythazan Township Court respectively in Mandalay Region.

“The judges told him at his trial on Monday that two more charges were brought against him in regard to the 2020 voting. Dr. Zaw Myint Maung denied those charges and said he would consult with his lawyers to defend those charges,” said a member of Dr. Zaw Myint Maung’s legal defense team.

The next court hearing is scheduled for December 1, when the defense team will apply for power of attorney to defend Dr. Zaw Myint Maung.

The new charges against the former Mandalay Chief Minister follow the junta-appointed election body’s announcement on November 16 that it would bring charges of electoral fraud against 16 individuals, including ousted President U Win Myint, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and former Union Election Commission Chairman U Hla Thein.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung faces up to three years in prison or a fine or both if convicted under the broadly-defined Section 130(a) of the Penal Code, which criminalizes contravening certain provisions in the Constitution and any law enacted by the Parliament by willfully doing any act which it forbids, or by willfully omitting to do any act which it requires to be done.

Another charge carries up to two years in jail for abusing influence or impersonation during an election.

Defense witnesses in Dr. Zaw Myint Maung’s incitement and COVID-19 restrictions violation trials also testified on Monday. Three other ousted Mandalay ministers, Dr. Soe Than, U Zarni Aung and U Myo Thit, are on trial alongside him, as well as former Mandalay Mayor Dr. Ye Lwin and Mandalay NLD secretary U Tin Ko Ko.

All are currently being detained at Mandalay’s Obo Prison, where they are being tried at a special court inside the jail. The court is likely to deliver its verdict in those cases in the third week of December, said Dr. Zaw Myint Maung’s legal team.

“Almost all the defense witnesses have testified and the court has started to hear prosecution witnesses in those cases. Some cases have been heard, but the court has not yet delivered its ruling. We think it will deliver its verdicts in all the cases around the third week of December,” said the legal team.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung now faces a total of ten charges in all, including one charge for incitement, two charges for violating COVID-19 restrictions and five charges under the Anti-Corruption Law.

The regime has also brought an incitement charge against former Mandalay Mayor Dr. Ye Lwin for allegedly inciting, via his Facebook, civil servants to join the Civil Disobedience Movement after the junta’s February 1 coup.

Dr. Ye Lwin has pleaded not guilty and most of the ten prosecution witnesses in his trial have testified. The incitement charge carries a two year jail term or a fine or both, while he is also charged with violating COVID-19 restrictions under the Natural Disaster Management Law, which carries three years in prison and a fine or both.

You may also like these stories:

Thai Forces Kill Drug Couriers, Seize 1.8 Million Meth Pills Near Myanmar Border

Myanmar Junta-Appointed Chief Minister Ambushed

Myanmar Regime Bars NLD Vice Chair From in Person Testimony at Suu Kyi Trial