Thu 12 Jul 2012
Filed under: Inside Burma
Another hearing in the trial of the chief spokesman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) was held on Friday in Naypyitaw. Spokesman Nyan Win is charged with providing false information to a government official, in regard to information he passed on to the media during the Apirl 1 by-election.
The case is being heard in the Zabuthiri Township court in Naypyitaw, the capital, said Nyan Win’s lawyer, Kyaw Ho.
Nyan Win, the NLD campaign coordinator during the April by-election, passed on information from third parties across the country that alleged ballots had been found in some polling stations that were coated with wax, making the ballots harder to mark properly.
The government’s Union Election Commission (UEC), after investigating the widely circulated reports, said the information was not true, that it was based on hearsay, and it had damaged the commission’s reputation.
The commission asked for an apology, but Nyan Win refused, saying that he was only one person among many who passed on the reports that were circulating around the country, and that he had no way to verify the information at the time.
If found guilty, he could be sentenced up to six months in prison or fined.
In Naypyidaw on Friday, the court heard testimony from one of the prosecutor’s nine witnesses.
The trial is set to reconvene on July 17.
“The court will hear testimony from the prosecutors and prosecution’s witnesses first – there are nine – and then will hear Nyan Win’s side,” said lawyer Kyaw Ho.
He said NLD attorneys are preparing to counter the witnesses’ statements.
Kyaw Ho said, “Nyan Win was sued for allegedly providing false information that the ballots were waxed. We’ve been preparing for this for a long time. We will argue that he didn’t provide any false information.”
After investigating the NLD allegation, the Election Commission announced on May 9 that the NLD complaints were a “sham,” and it filed charges against Nyan Win.
The UEC director Thaung Hlaing filed suit under section 182 of the penal code for providing false information to a public servant and for making a claim in a press conference during the April 1 by-elections that ballots in several polling stations were coated in wax.
The UEC ordered Nyan Win to publicly retract his statements, but he refused to do so, saying that he was not the source of the rumors.
“If it is not true, we are happy with that, but we are not guilty according to the law,” said Nyan Win, who is also a lawyer.
Leading dissidents, including members of the 88-Generation Students group, and local and international media, also passed on the ballot-tampering claims.