Arrested judge in Mandalay released and transferred to Bago

A township judge in Mandalay’s Chanmyathazi who was arrested in late March for speaking out against Myanmar’s coup regime has been released and transferred by the junta’s judicial authorities to a new posting in Bago Region, according to members of the legal community.

Judge Ko Ko has reportedly been assigned to work in a court in Nyaunglebin Township. 

“He was released after they found no obvious evidence of his wrongdoing. Then he was transferred to another town after an internal investigation was conducted in the regional court,” a lawyer from the Mandalay-based Lawyers Network told Myanmar Now. 

Ko Ko was arrested on March 25 after he accused the military council—in a Facebook post—of interfering in the judicial sector. The Chanmyathazi Township police chief filed a lawsuit against him, charging him with creating division among government employees and incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code. 

After being detained at the No. 11 police station in Mandalay, Ko Ko was released in early April before his 14-day remand had been completed. He was transferred to Nyaunglebin in May, according to the Lawyers Network. 

“A township judge is a gazetted officer who must not be easily arrested without the permission of his department. So an internal inspection was conducted and he was transferred to another township, seemingly as a punitive action,” a lawyer in Mandalay told Myanmar Now. 

In 2018, Ko Ko was appointed as a deputy judge at the Chanmyathazi Township court, and he was promoted to the position of township judge one year later. He is also a son-in-law of former Mandalay Region High Court Chief Justice Soe Thein, who retired in 2020 under the administration led by the National League for Democracy.

Despite the criticism of the coup council which led to his arrest, Ko Ko was not widely perceived as resisting the military regime; in the days leading up to his arrest, he was criticised by the general public for writing Facebook posts condemning those involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Myanmar Now has been unable to contact him regarding his release and transfer, and the police force have not released a public comment on the issue.

At the time of reporting, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has said that more than 4,000 people have been arrested in the country since the February 1 military coup.


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