Ex-Child Soldier Aung Ko Htwe Acquitted of Latest Charge

By Lawi Weng 31 October 2018

YANGON — Aung Ko Htwe, a former child soldier in the Myanmar Army, was acquitted of violating the Union Seal Law by a court in Yangon’s Botahtaung Township on Tuesday, according to his lawyer.

Aung Ko Htwe, who is serving a two-year prison sentence for incitement handed down in March, was facing another three years in jail after police charged him under Section 7 of the Union Seal Law for allegedly standing on a copy of the Constitution during a protest.

“The court did not find that he stepped on the Constitution and the prosecutor could not even prove that he stepped on the book. Therefore, he was acquitted of the second charge,” Robert San Aung, Aung Ko Htwe’s lawyer, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday. “We welcome the court’s decision.”

The lawyer said he would write to President U Win Myint to ask that his client be absolved of his standing conviction.

Both local and international rights groups have condemned the incitement case against Aung Ko Htwe and urged the government to secure his release.

In 2005, at the age of 14, Aung Ko Htwe was abducted at Yangon’s central railway station and forced into military service, according to his family. After two years he escaped with two other men. While making their getaway, however, the owner of a motorbike they were stealing was strangled to death. Aung Ko Htwe denied responsibility.

All three were charged with murder, convicted and sentenced to death. In 2013, however, Aung Ko Htwe had his sentence commuted to life in prison and was released in July 2017, after 10 years in jail.

He was rearrested late last year after the military charged him with incitement for an interview he gave Radio Free Asia in which he claimed he was abused by authorities during his first trial.