Victims of 44th Street incident handed 12-year prison sentences

Three youths who survived a three-storey fall to the ground while trying to escape a military raid in Yangon’s Botahtaung Township last year were given 12-year prison sentences on Tuesday, according to a court source.

Ye Min Oo, Min Thitsar Aung, and Wai Yan Htet were among 10 people sentenced in connection with the raid at a hearing held inside Insein Prison, the source said.

All 10 were facing charges under the Explosive Substances Act, including illegal possession of explosives and endangering public safety. The sentences ranged from five to 12 years.

On August 10 of last year, regime forces stormed an apartment on 44th Street in Botahtaung, where they arrested three of the defendants—Thiha Kaung Sett, Poe Kyawt Kyawt Khant, and Wai Phyo Aung.

Ye Min Oo, Min Thitsar Aung, and Wai Yan Htet were caught after falling from the roof of the building as they attempted to flee, while two others—Wai Wai Myint and Wai Zaw Phyoe—plunged to their deaths.

The others sentenced on Tuesday were Kyaw Kyaw Oo, a taxi driver who was arrested before the raid; Kaung Sett and Min Hein Khant, who were apprehended later; and Sai Win Lwin Htut, whose details were not available at the time of reporting.

According to the father of Ye Min Oo, families were not allowed to meet with the prisoners until after they received their sentences.

“I’m in no position to say anything about the other kids, but Ye Min Oo is a very adaptable person. He can survive essentially anywhere,” he said, noting that his son—who was transferred to an interrogation centre soon after his release from the hospital—had still not fully recovered from his injuries.

“He only told us to give him some support from the background so that he could live comfortably in prison. He’s in good health save for a limp in his left leg, which I think is going to be a lifelong disability,” he added.

Poe Kyawt Kyawt Khant, the only woman among the 10 detainees, was handed a five-year sentence for possession of explosives, according to Myanmar Now’s source.

She was pregnant at the time of her arrest and reportedly gave birth inside Insein Prison in late February, the source added.

Kyaw Kyaw Oo, Kaung Sett, and Min Hein Khant each received 12-year sentences after they were found guilty of illegal possession of explosives and being accessories to offences under the Explosive Substances Act.

Kaung Sett and Min Hein Khant, who were arrested in November of last year, were also accused of being members of an urban guerrilla group and are facing additional charges, according to the court source, who was unable to provide further details.

Kaung Min Thant, the only person to escape the raid on the 44th  Street apartment, told Myanmar Now that he managed to get away by hiding on the roof of the building for 12 hours before fleeing to a safe area.

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