Ousted chief minister of Karen State hit with 75-year prison sentence

A judge sentenced Karen State’s ousted chief minister Nang Khin Htwe Myint to 75 years in prison on Tuesday for five separate counts of corruption, her lawyer said. 

The 67-year-old, who like many top National League for Democracy (NLD) figures was detained in the early hours of February 1 as the military staged its coup, got 15 years for each corruption charge, said lawyer Aung Thein.

Also sentenced on Tuesday was Karen’s ousted state finance minister Than Naing, 65. He was given a 90-year prison term for six corruption offences. 

“It was the maximum term,” said Aung Thein, who represented both defendants. “Both the chief minister and the minister had already expected this, so they were more or less unfazed by their sentences.”

Nang Khin Htwe Myint was accused of breaching Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law by, among other things, using state funds to pay her medical bills and moving money meant for a development project to a private bank account.  

Nang Khin Htwe Myint seen with NLD leaders during the opening ceremony of the NLD office in Naypyitaw last year (NLD)

Aung Thein said that they would not be appealing the sentences. “Because their cases were systematically filed by the authorities with the aim of giving them prison sentences, there’s no sense in saying whether it’s fair or not,” said the lawyer.

In May, both defendants received two-year prison sentences for incitement at the Hpa-an Township court. 

Nang Khin Htwe Myint is being held at the prison in Hpa-an and appeared in good health at Tuesday’s hearing, Aung Thein said. 

She was put under house arrest after being detained on February 1 and was then re-arrested on February 8 after a video of her calling on soldiers to unite with the public was published on social media, angering the junta.

On June 10 the junta arrested two lawyers who were working on Nang Khin Htwe Myint’s case, as well as other political cases, and charged them with incitement.  

The chief ministers of Rakhine State and Magway Region have each also received two-year prison sentences for incitement and are defending against several corruption charges.

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