Phyo Wai Aung Receives Death Sentence

By Zarni Mann 8 May 2012

Phyo Wai Aung, an engineer who was arrested for his alleged involvement in a spate of bombings at the Thingyan water festival in Rangoon in April 2010, was sentenced to death by a special closed court on Tuesday.

He was arrested on April 23, 2010, after being accused of involvement in the Buddhist New Year explosions that killed 10 people and injured over a hundred at the crowded X2O Pavilion in the former capital.

Various sentences handed down include the death penalty for murder, life sentences under the Criminal Act, three years detention with labor under the Immigration Act, 10 years with labor under the Demolitions Act, and three years with labor under the Unlawful Association Act.

“These are the highest sentences ever,” said Kyaw Hoe, his lawyer. “We are disappointed as the court sentenced him because of evidence submitted by the authorities which they received through torture. We will submit an appeal to Divisional Court”, Family members were not allowed to enter the court and had to wait outside instead, close relatives told The Irrawaddy.

“We hoped that we would not get this kind of sentence,” said his wife, Htay Htay. “We are so disappointed with the judicial system for these unlawful and illegal proceedings. However, we will submit appeals.”

According to his family, Phyo Wai Aung needs immediate medical attention as he is suffering from osteoarthritis on his back which prevents him from sitting or walking. He is also suspected of having liver sclerosis and his family worry that he may be moved to another prison without notice.

“The prison authorities allowed some doctors from outside to give a check-up few weeks ago,” said Htay Htay. “But the ultrasound machine in the prison hospital is not working properly so the doctors can’t diagnose the exact problem.

“He is only given painkillers and now has to move from the prison hospital to the psychiatric ward as he received a death sentence. We’ve submitted appeals to give him medical care with physicians or specialists but have not yet received a reply.”

Meanwhile, by pointing out human rights abuses in the case of Phyo Wai Aung, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said in their May 6 report that the recent political transformation in Burma has not been accompanied by wider institutional reform.

The report said that Phyo Wai Aung has been tortured and illegally detained and was forced to confess about the bomb blast with these illegally obtained confessions submitted to the court.

Moreover, the closed trial at a special court inside Insein Prison used fabricated evidence and denied him the right to a defense, claims the AHRC.