Regional Myanmar Protest Leader Appears in Court on Widely Derided Murder Charge

By The Irrawaddy 24 April 2021

Prominent anti-regime protest leader Ko Wai Moe Naing and 41 others were brought to court on Friday for an initial hearing in murder cases against them that have been widely dismissed as spurious, according to Monywa District Lawyers Network.

Since anti-regime protests broke out in early February in Monywa, the Muslim man had been at the forefront of the rallies. Monywa is a business hub on the eastern bank of the Chindwin River and the largest city in Sagaing Region.

Ko Wai Moe Naing and 37 others were formally confronted with the murder allegations at Monywa District Court, and four others, who are minors, were charged at Monywa Township Court.

“The court hearing was held with video conferencing. He seems to be in good health. They didn’t tell us about his whereabouts,” said a lawyer of Monywa District Lawyers Network.

Others are locked up in Monywa Prison and local police stations. They are accused of murdering the two policemen in a graveyard in Monywa last month.

The next court appearance is scheduled for May 7 at which time lawyers will apply for power of attorney to defend the accused, said a member of Monywa District Lawyers Network.

“We will try to meet them all after receiving power of attorney. Ko Wai Moe Naing’s lawyers will also ask to meet his client at the next trial,” the member of the lawyers network said.

Ko Wai Moe Naing was detained on April 15 after regime forces drove a large vehicle head-on into a group of motor scooters carrying him and other anti-regime protesters. After being violently knocked to the ground, the 26-year-old was beaten and dragged away, witnesses said.

According to Ko Wai Moe Naing’s mother, her son is being held in the North-Western Command of Myanmar’s military, and no one including his relatives has been allowed to see him.

In spite of all the violent crackdowns and widespread arbitrary arrests, the protest movement against the military regime continues with momentum in Monywa.

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