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Prosecution of Filmmaker Sued by Military to Proceed: Court

By Htet Khaung Lin 18 July 2019

YANGON—The court in Yangon’s Insein Township ruled on Thursday that the prosecution of a well-known filmmaker sued by the military in April will proceed.

U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is being prosecuted under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code, as his social media posts criticizing the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) allegedly threaten to cause members of the military to mutiny or neglect their duties, defense lawyer U Robert San Aung said.

However, the plaintiff, Lieutenant Colonel Lin Tun of the Myanmar military’s Yangon Region Command, replied “No” when asked by the judge whether U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi’s posts caused soldiers to mutiny or neglect their duties.

“When asked if it is true that the military commander-in-chief, who is the head of the Tatmadaw, did not give permission to prosecute [U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi], the plaintiff replied that there is a division of labor in the Tatmadaw. As they have filed the charge, we have to refute it,” U Robert San Aung said.

When asked why he filed a second lawsuit under Article 505(a) after he had already filed a lawsuit under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, which covers defamation, Lt-Col Lin Tun said he did so because he was unhappy with U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi’s posts.

In a video file shared by the “Justice for Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi” Facebook page, U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi tells reporters: “The plaintiff said at the trial that he filed the charges because there are [only] two laws [that can be applied to prosecute me]. He said he would have filed three charges if there were three [laws], and four charges if there were four.”

Lt-Col Lin Tun opened the first case in March at Insein Township Police Station under Article 66(d) over posts the filmmaker shared on social media deemed defamatory to the military.

The military officer later filed another lawsuit with Insein Township Court against him under Article 505(a).

According to U Robert San Aung, the Insein Township Police Station has not brought the charge under Article 66(d) to the court.

“Perhaps it is because police have not yet established the case under Article 66(d). I don’t know yet how this charge will proceed,” he told reporters.

At the next hearing in the trial, scheduled for Aug. 1, prosecution witness Major Aung Ye Kyaw will testify again. The defense plans to present two witnesses at that hearing, U Robert San Aung said.

U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, the founder of the annual Human Rights, Human Dignity International Film Festival, who has been openly critical of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution and the military’s role in politics, has been in detention for nearly three months in Insein Prison.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison under Article 505(a).

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