Leading National League for Democracy (NLD) member U Win Htein will be tried on sedition charges at a court inside Naypyitaw Prison.
At a court hearing on Friday at which U Win Htein was set to testify, the judges said that the Supreme Court of the Union has ordered that the senior NLD member be tried at a separate court in Naypyitaw Prison on May 14 in order to facilitate his trial. Previously, the case was being heard via video at the Dekkhinathiri District Court.
“The next court hearing will be held in prison and not via video conferencing. As he will be at a court in Naypyitaw Prison, we will be able to meet him in person,” said U Win Htein’s lawyer Daw Min Min Soe. The 80-year-old has not yet been allowed to meet his lawyers in prison.
U Win Htein was arrested at his Yangon home on Feb. 4, three days after the military regime’s coup, when Oketarathiri District administrator U Aye Lu filed a complaint against him under Section 124(a) of the Penal Code.
Section 124(a) criminalizes “any statement, sign or visible representation to bring into hatred or contempt, or excite disaffection towards the government”. The charge carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years with a fine.
U Win Htein, a former captain in the Myanmar military turned politician, has condemned the regime’s coup as being the result of coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s personal lust for power.
The fact that Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing has overthrown the democratically-elected government and arrested President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi means that he has no intention of returning Myanmar to democracy, U Win Htein told the press in Naypyitaw.
Since joining the NLD in 1988, U Win Htein has already spent more than 20 years in prison. After the 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations, he was jailed in Yangon’s Insein Prison from 1989 until 1995.
In 1996, he was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of providing misinformation to foreign journalists and was only released in 2010. He won a 2012 by-election to represent Mandalay Region’s Meiktila Township and held the Lower House seat until January 2016.
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