Wai Moe Naing faces 28-year prison sentence as junta hits him with five charges 

Prominent anti-coup protest leader Wai Moe Naing has been hit with five criminal charges at a court in the Sagaing Region town of Monywa, according to his lawyer.

Plainclothes regime officials arrested the 26-year-old earlier this month after ramming him with a car while he rode a motorbike during a rally in the town.

He was charged on Friday with murder, unlawful assembly, wrongful confinement, abduction with intent to murder, and incitement during a hearing held via video link, his lawyer Moe Zaw Htun said.

“I was not able to attend the hearing for various reasons. I haven’t submitted a power of attorney to represent him,” the lawyer said, adding that he has not been allowed to meet his client and does not know where he is being detained. 

“Reliable sources said he is in good health. That’s all I know,” he added.

Wai Moe Naing faces a total of 28 years in prison under the charges. The next hearing is scheduled for May 7.

After his arrest he was first taken to the local town hall and then to the northwestern regional military command base, a local relief worker told Myanmar Now at the time. 

The day after he was captured, the regime published a photo of Wai Moe Naing in custody with a bruised eye and swollen face, prompting fears that he is being tortured

He has suffered from high blood pressure for the past six years, his mother said. 

The murder charge relates to the killings of two police officers in Monywa on March 25. The junta has also accused activist Ta Yote Gyi of being involved in the murders. 

The case was filed by the deputy police major of Monywa police station.

No evidence has emerged to link the two activists to the crime, said Wai Moe Naing’s mother, Moe Sandar Kyu. Her son was hiding at a house in the town after joining an anti-coup rally when the killings happened, she said.

“I want to explain at the court that he didn’t commit any murder. I want this chance as soon as possible,” Moe Sandar Kyu said, adding that she wants to meet with her son in person to make sure he is in good health.

Wai Moe Naing rose to prominence for his role organising daily anti-coup protests in Monywa, which sits on the eastern bank of the Chindwin River. The cheerful, chubby-faced leader came to be known affectionately as the ‘Panda of Monywa’.

Wai Moe Naing was chair of the Monywa University Student Union from 2014 to 2015, and is also a member of Monywa’s General Strike Committee and the Sagaing Regional Youth Committee. 

The junta has laid charges against a total of 42 people from Monywa who were detained during its crackdown there, including four minors, a local lawyer told Myanmar Now. 

The four minors will be tried at the juvenile court in Monywa, said the lawyer, who requested anonymity. 


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