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

By The Irrawaddy 23 November 2021

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, Mandalay Chief Minister under the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government, has been barred on health grounds from taking the stand as a defence witness for detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The former Chief Minister, who is also Vice Chairman of the NLD, was named by the ousted State Counselor’s legal team as a defense witness in her trial for violating COVID-19 restrictions, one of 11 cases filed against her by the military regime.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, who is battling leukemia, has been detained at Obo Prison in Mandalay since the junta’s February coup.

The NLD Vice Chair was set to testify on Tuesday for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the special court in the Myanmar capital of Naypyitaw, but the judge said he could not appear, citing a regime health official’s statement that he is unfit to travel. 

However, the former Mandalay Chief Minister seemed to be in a stable condition on Monday when he appeared at a court inside Obo Prison, a source close to him told The Irrawaddy.

“Prosecution witnesses appeared at the court hearing yesterday. His family members were allowed to visit him. He is in good shape and doesn’t seem to be in a critical condition. There might be other reasons that he is not being summoned as a witness to Naypyitaw,” said the source.

One observer suggested that Dr. Zaw Myint Maung was barred from taking the stand in person because the regime wants to avoid a face-to-face meeting between him and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judges suggested two other options to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense team: that he appear via video conferencing or that he gives his testimony in Mandalay before a judicial commission. 

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense team will decide on one of those options at the next court hearing on November 30. 

The ousted State Counselor has been charged by the junta with violating Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law over her visit to Shwe Kyar Pin Ward in Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township ahead of last year’s general election. Dr. Zaw Myint Maung was present during the visit.

The Naypyitaw court will deliver its verdict in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s incitement trial on November 30. Ousted President U Win Myint and former Naypyitaw Mayor Dr. Myo Aung are also on trial alongside her.

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