Deposed Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu and two other ousted Rakhine ministers appeared in court in the Rakhine capital Sittwe on Monday to face corruption charges under the Anti-Corruption Law.
U Nyi Pu, former planning and finance minister U Kyaw Aye Thein and former electricity and transport minister U Aung Kyaw Zan appeared before a special court in Sittwe Prison to answer charges that they violated financial regulations regarding a permit granted to a local garment company in Sittwe.
“Our defense is that they did not violate any laws because it [the granting of the permit] was done in accordance with the decision of the now ousted Rakhine State government,” lawyer U Aung Sitt Min, who is acting for U Kyaw Aye Thein, told The Irrawaddy.
The junta has accused the trio of handing three state-owned buildings in Sittwe to a private company, which has links with them, to open a garment factory, as well as providing the company with 5.5 million kyats for the maintenance of the building even though the garment factory was not yet operational.
Two other ousted Rakhine State ministers – agriculture, livestock and mines minister U Kyaw Lwin and municipal minister U Min Aung – also face corruption charges.
U Nyi Pu and U Min Aung were detained in February soon after the junta’s coup. U Kyaw Aye Thein and U Aung Kyaw Zan were detained in Yangon at the end of July. U Kyaw Lwin was detained on Ramree Island, Rakhine State in August.
In August, the military regime said that it had opened corruption cases against the ministers at a Sittwe police station under Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law, which carries a potential 15-year prison sentence plus a fine for people in political positions who commit bribery.
All five detained ministers are also accused of violating financial and land tender regulations regarding land utilization in Gwa Township, Rakhine State, and of using 86.5 million kyats of Rakhine State funds in violation of financial regulations.
The regime has also accused U Min Aung of building markets without the approval of the Rakhine State Parliament and accepting bribes from the companies that won the tenders to build the markets.
U Nyi Pu, U Kyaw Aye Thein and U Aung Kyaw Zan will next appear in court on Thursday.
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