Myanmar Junta Court Jails Ousted Mon State Chief Minister for 21 Years
By The Irrawaddy 17 May 2022
In the regime’s latest attempt to undermine the National League for Democracy leadership, a junta court in Mon State on Monday handed a 21-year prison sentence to Dr. Aye Zan, the state’s detained chief minister, on nine charges under the Anti-Corruption Law.
Detained since February last year, he has been charged by the junta with 13 offenses in total, including incitement, corruption and disrupting the work of the election commission.
He was sentenced to two years in prison for incitement in December for urging civil servants to join the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM)—formed by government employees who refuse to work for the military regime—in early February last year.
In addition to the sentencing, three more charges related to the elections were heard on Tuesday. Dr. Aye Zan has been held in Kyaikmaraw Prison and a special court has been set up to hear all of his cases.
His lawyer told The Irrawaddy that the chief minister’s legal team will appeal the case decided on Monday to a higher court.
All nine charges were filed under Article 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law.
Dr. Aye Zan was sentenced to two years each on six corruption charges and three years each on a charge relating to the procurement of COVID-19 test kits; a charge involving a new NLD office building; and another concerning the loss of 132 million kyats (over US$71,000) due to his government’s decision to permit a lower tax rate on sand mining.
The first six corruption charges were related to the collection of funds from the sand-minding business in the Salween River for community development between 2018 and 2020. The junta alleged that the collection of funds resulted in the loss of 569 million kyats in state revenue, although the funds were used for the development projects.
According to a source close to the sand-mining case, Dr. Aye Zan only gave his opinion on the sand-mining concession, in which sand was to be exported, and the final decision was made by the central government.
All of the detained NLD-appointed chief ministers except Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein have been charged with corruption and imprisoned.
An NLD official who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Not only Dr. Aye Zan, but all NLD chief ministers including Magwe Region chief Dr. Aung Moe Nyo and Rakhine State chief U Nyi Pu—who are well known for their honesty—have also been imprisoned on corruption charges, which is completely contrary to their integrity.”
“The junta’s intention is very clear,” he said, pointing out that U Phyo Min Thein, who had a reputation among the public for being corrupt, is the only one not to have been charged.
“He is not charged as he acted as a witness against his own leader [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] and does whatever the military council asks him to do, despite the rumor of corruption,” said the NLD source.
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