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Myanmar court sentences ex-legislator to 173 years in prison

BANGKOK — A military-run court in Myanmar has found a former lawmaker from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party guilty of terrorism and sentenced him to 148 years in prison, which, added to previous sentences, extends his total prison sentence to 173 years, a person familiar with the case said Wednesday.

The sentence handed down by 52-year-old Win Myint Hlaing on Monday appears to be the longest imposed on a member of Suu Kyi’s government and party detained after the February 1, 2021 military coup. However, authorities have executed at least four political activists who were convicted. on terrorism charges.

A statement from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in May said 917 party officials and members had been arrested and 701 remained in military custody. Suu Kyi, who was arrested the day the army took over, has already been convicted on several counts and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her supporters say the charges were fabricated to discredit her and prevent her from participating in the next elections, which the army has promised in 2023.

Win Myint Hlain won election to local parliament in the Magway region of central Myanmar in 2015 but did not contest the 2020 elections. He took part in anti-military protests before being arrested in Yaksawk township in eastern Shan state in November last year.

His house in Taungdwingyi Township in Magway was seized by security forces a day after his arrest, forcing his family to flee.

Army-controlled state media said Win Myint Hlaing collected arms and ammunition and supported a local defense force that targeted an education office, banks and police stations with bomb attacks. the bomb in its fight against the army.

They also said he organized another local defense group in his area called Beikthanoe People’s Defense Force, which allegedly carried out more than two dozen attacks involving arson, bombings and assassinations.

Political trials in Myanmar are virtually all closed, so the evidence used to convict him is not known.

A Magway court on Monday found Win Myint Hlain guilty of eight offenses under the Anti-Terrorism Act and sentenced him to 148 years, said a person familiar with the court proceedings who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear to be arrested. Some of the incidents for which he was convicted took place while he was already in prison, the person said.

Win Myint Hlain had previously been sentenced in March, April and June by a prison court for five offenses of incitement and terrorism, for which he received total sentences of 25 years. Long-term inmates at Magway prison, including Win Myint Hlaing, are in chains, a person with knowledge of the prison said.

The military takeover prevented Suu Kyi’s party from returning to office for a second five-year term after winning a landslide victory in the 2020 general election. to numerous non-violent protests that were suppressed by security forces with lethal force, sparking an armed resistance that some UN experts have described as a civil war.

The military government’s arrests of many party leaders could cripple its attempts to challenge the army in new polls. The charges against them include treason, bribery, incitement, terrorism and failure to comply with coronavirus regulations.

ABC News

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