Ousted Rakhine State chief minister sentenced to 9 more years in prison for corruption 

Nyi Pu, Rakhine State’s detained chief minister, had nine more years added to an existing two-year prison term during a Wednesday court hearing inside Sittwe Prison, according to his lawyer. 

The most recent sentence was for a conviction on three charges filed under Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law. 

“It was a three-year prison sentence with hard labour for each charge, so there is a total of nine years,” the lawyer, who is from the Thazin Legal Aid Institute, told Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity. 

Nyi Pu’s daughter, Kyi Kyi Oo, said that she had no comment to offer on her father’s sentencing by the junta court. 

“They filed the charge themselves and convicted him themselves, as well. There’s nothing I can say or do to stop them. Therefore, I would like to say nothing,” she said.

The chief minister’s legal team claimed they would work on appealing his conviction. His initial two-year sentence was for incitement after his party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), released a statement denouncing the junta following the military coup in February last year. 

Nyi Pu was already in detention at the time the statement was published. 

Corruption allegations

The first of the three corruption charges against Nyi Pu was jointly filed against Rakhine State’s Minister of Industry and Transportation Aung Kyaw Zan, Minister of Planning and Finance Kyaw Aye Thein, Minister of Forestry and Mining Kyaw Lwin. 

They are accused in the case file of costing the state unnecessary expenses. 

Kyaw Lwin was sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour on what was his sole corruption charge. 

Nyi Pu, Kyaw Aye Thein and Aung Kyaw Zan were accused of loaning out the use of three state-owned buildings in Gwa Township to a company which used them as part of a garment factory, and giving 55m kyat (US$30,930) to the company to repair the buildings. They were also accused of misusing 865m kyat (nearly $486.5m) worth of regional development funding. 

The charges were filed in September of last year, with the junta court reaching a verdict four months later. 

Case against Min Aung

Nyi Pu, along with former state municipal minister Min Aung, is still facing charges under Section 130a and Section 109 of the Penal Code for allegedly violating the Constitution, filed in December. 

If convicted, he faces at least a three-year prison sentence. 

Min Aung is accused of violating tender laws through his involvement in a market construction project without parliamentary permission. One of the markets reportedly remains in ruins despite his granting of a contract to a company to carry out renovations at a rate of 30m kyat ($16,870) more than the tender rates. 

The lawyer from Thazin Legal Aid Institute said that Min Aung was handed a seven-year prison sentence for his own Section 55 corruption charge on Wednesday. He is already serving a term of more than two years, bringing his total sentence to nine. 

NLD chief ministers imprisoned

Since the coup, the junta has been aggressively targeting leaders, members and supporters of the NLD party, whose elected administration was ousted in the military takeover. 

Nyi Pu is among the multiple NLD chief ministers who have since been handed lengthy prison sentences by the coup regime. 

NLD leaders seen at the opening ceremony of the Naypyitaw office of the NLD party in January 2021 (NLD)

Nang Khin Htwe Myint, the 67-year-old Karen State chief minister, was sentenced to two years in prison for incitement, three years for violating the Constitution, and 75 years for a total of five corruption convictions.  

For the same corruption convictions, Nyi Pu and others were sentenced to three years for each charge, instead of 15. The reason for the discrepancy is not known. 

Magway Region chief minister Dr Aung Moe Nyo is serving an 18-year sentence, or three years for each of six corruption charges. He was sentenced on December 30. He was initially sent to prison after being convicted of incitement, and is facing an outstanding charge for alleged abuse of authority during the 2020 general election. That charge carries a maximum sentence of two years. 

Dr Zaw Myint Maung, Mandalay’s chief minister, has been detained in the region’s Obo Prison since the coup. He is facing five charges under Section 505b of the Penal Code for incitement, as well as under the Disaster Management Law and several corruption charges.  

Court hearings for the incitement and disaster management violations are ongoing at the Aungmyaythazan Township court, but the hearings concerning the corruption charges continue to be postponed monthly. 

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