Detained political prisoners sentenced to death without legal defense

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Mawlamyine, December (3)

The political prisoners arrested by the military council are sentenced to death in military tribunals without the right to hire a lawyer to defend themselves, the lawyers and advocates for political prisoners told Than Lwin Times.

A military court sentenced seven Dagon University students on November 30 in connection with the shooting death of a retired army lieutenant colonel and Global Treasure Bank manager in April.

The military council sentenced Dagon University students, Ko Khant Zin Win, Ko Thura Maung Maung, Zaw Lin Naing, Ko Thiha Zaw  Htet, Ko Hein Hte, Ko Thet Paing Oo and Ko Khant Lin Maung to death under Section 302 (a) of the Penal Code.

A legal expert said that those charged in military courts should have the right to defend themselves according to the law, but the defendants were not allowed to hire lawyers to defend themselves.

The jurist pointed out that after the coup, the trials in the military court appointed an army officer to defend the defendants, but they are not as capable as lawyers to defend the accused according to the law.

According to an official from the Assistance Association for the Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military court’s punishment is not legally transparent, and it is against the law to be prevented from hiring lawyers to defend it.

According to legal experts, a written appeal led by prison authorities must be submitted to the military tribunal within seven days of the death sentence.

If the appeals office rejects the appeal, the prison officials will continue to submit the petition to the current head of state, the Chief of the military council.

Legal experts said that if the Junta Chief rejects the plea again, the military court will issue an order confirming the death sentence.

Every prisoner who has been given a death sentence should have the opportunity to plead and the right to appeal, according to the Prison Act.

Dagon University Students’ Union President Ko Min Han Htet said that the military council’s move using the broken law to impose the death penalty amounted to murder.

Ko Min han Htet said that it is unpredictable whether the military council will actually execute those who have been sentenced to death, and that international governments and organizations that value human rights need to support and assist those detainees.

Salai Tin Maung Oo, a student leader, was hanged and given the death penalty in 1976 in Myanmar during the rule of the former military dictator General Nay Win.

The death penalty was freqently imposed on the perpetrators, but no executions were actually carried out. The military council again imposed the death penalty in 2022 following the coup in 2021.

The military council hanged Ko Jimmy, Ko Phyo Zeyar Thaw, Ko Hla Myo Aung and Ko Aung Thu Ra Zaw on July 25 amid protests from the international community.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), as of December 1, there were 132 people sentenced to death in connection with the Spring Revolution in the 22 months since the military took power.

News-Than Lwin Times

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