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Blogger faces lengthier possible jail term after prosecution alters charge

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Author and blogger Nay Phone Latt, who has been in custody for six months, is facing charges under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, section 5(j), a switch from the previous charge filed against him under section 32(b) of the Video Act.

"His case has been changed to section 5(j) of the Emergency Provisions Act. The Special Branch (SB) of the Police informed him about this in prison on 2 July (2008), he said. He was previously charged under section 32(b). The hearing is now fixed for 16 July. But he also said that he will not be brought before the court on 16 July but will be remanded again," Aye Aye Than, the blogger's mother, who met with him in prison on 7 July, told Mizzima.

Nay Phone Latt was facing a maximum of six months in prison. He now faces a maximum of seven years in jail if convicted under the new charge, defence lawyer Aung Thein explained.

"The authorities and the law enforcement agencies do not respect and abide by the law. They changed the charge according to their wishes. They couldn't produce the accused before the court as they do not have a sound case. They have just changed their charge sheet again and again under different sections of different acts. He has been in custody for a long time," the lawyer said.

The authorities arrested Nay Phone Latt on 29 January and have kept him in custody until now without producing him in court.

High court lawyer Aung Thein submitted an application to the authorities on 16 June seeking an interview to get his client's instructions, but has not received permission yet.

Aye Aye Than said she had asked the authorities to allow her son to receive treatment for his eye problems. ". . . My son said tears come to his eyes at night and he cannot read books, his sole companion in prison. I worry about his eyesight. He must get proper treatment before it is too late. The doctor can prescribe him medicine and vitamins for his eye disease. The eye is the most delicate part of the human body," his mother said.

Meanwhile, another famous human right activist, Suu Suu Nwe, is suffering from high blood pressure in solitary confinement. Her elder sister, Daw Htay Htay Kyi, who visited the prison on 7 July, said, "I couldn't meet her yesterday. I sent a food parcel to her through the prison authorities. They said that prison meetings with family members are banned for her alleged violation of prison rules and discipline. She said her blood pressure was 160-140 mm Hg when I met her the last time on 30 June. Our family doctor prescribed medicines and we sent them to her through the prison authorities. We do not know whether she's got them."

Suu Suu Nwe, a heart patient, hit her head against a brick wall after quarrelling with the prison authorities at the end of June. Since that time, she has been kept in solitary confinement.

"I saw a notice pasted at the prison gate saying she had quarrelled with the prison staff many times and made many complaints and argued with them, so she was punished with 14 days of solitary confinement," lawyer Khin Maung Shein said after visiting the prison on 4 July.

Suu Suu Nwe was arrested on 14 November 2007 in front of Myayeiknyo Hotel while she was involved in a poster campaign. She was then charged under section 143 & 145 (unlawful assembly), section 505(b) (inciting crime against public tranquility) and section 124(a) (committing disaffection towards the State) of the Criminal Code. She was expected to appear in court on 9 July.

Updates the Nay Phone Latt case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94579

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