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Former military officer sentenced to ten years in prison under Electronics Act

(Mizzima News/IFEX) - The day after the UN human rights envoy left Burma, a special court inside Insein Prison in Rangoon sentenced Nay Myo Zin, a leading volunteer for a blood donation group and a former military officer, to 10 years in prison for possession of an e-mail critical of the military.

The verdict was reached after a trial that spanned nearly four months, and Nay Myo Zin's family was not allowed to attend the one-hour long, closed hearing held on 26 August 2011. Rangoon North District Judge Khin Maung announced the verdict, saying an article insulting the army was found in Nay Myo Zin's e-mail account, according to defence attorney Hla Myo Myint.

Because of a lower back injury sustained as a result of a fall in the prison, Nay Myo Zin appeared at the hearing in a wheelchair. According to Hla Myo Myint, Nay Myo Zin told the judge: "It is totally unfair that the court sentenced a young man who loyally served the country to 10 years in prison. So I will not appeal the verdict."

However, Nay Myo Zin's lawyers, who are members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), said they want to file an appeal.

"The prosecution could not show clearly that the authorities got the documents from him [Nay Myo Zin]. We argued that the seizure of his documents and computer was not done according to the law," Hla Myo Myint said.

The e-mail in question contained critical comments about the army made by Major Aung Lin Htut and NLD central executive committee member Win Tin, which were given to the media in exile. The comments said that the "minds of today's soldiers are in turmoil," according to sources. No further details were available.

Nay Myo Zin, 35, resigned from his position as a captain in 2005, after serving in the army for nearly 10 years. He is not a member of any political party. He was an active volunteer for a blood donation group before he was arrested. Because of his lower back injury, he was sent from Insein Prison to an orthopaedic hospital in Kyimyindine Township, in the Rangoon region.

The owner of an Internet café, Nay Myo Zin was arrested at his home in South Dagon Township by special police force officers on 2 April. Two weeks later, authorities seized his mobile phone and a computer from his home.

He was detained without an arrest warrant and was held for more than three weeks without being taken before a magistrate. The Asian Human Rights Commission issued a statement in late April saying that Burmese authorities had violated his rights as a citizen under the 2008 Constitution.


BACKGROUND:

The South Dagon BG blood donation group said that when recent meetings between pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and government officials were underway, they questioned why higher officials appeared to hold one set of views and lower officials another.

Nyi Nyi, a leader of the blood donation group, said, "The lower officials are spoiling the things that the higher officials do."

The Electronics Act, which is often used to prosecute people for human rights activities, was imposed in 2004 under the former junta led by Senior General Than Shwe. Under the Electronics Act a person who undermines state security, community peace and tranquility or national solidarity can be sentenced to anywhere from seven up to 15 years in prison.

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