A police officer who arrested U Gambira on suspicion of immigration offences told court yesterday that he detained the leader of the 2007 uprising following a verbal request from the immigration department, but was not shown any evidence to support allegations of illegal entry from Thailand.

The prosecution alleges that U Gambira, also known as U Nyi Nyi Lwin, entered the country illegally at the border crossing of Mae Sai-Tachileik on January 16. He is charged under Section 13(a) of the colonial-era Burma Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act of 1947.

Three police officers were due to appear in a Mandalay court yesterday as witnesses, but two did not attend the hearing. U Ba Maw from the Special Branch – who in an earlier case charged BBC reporter Ko Nay Myo Linn for assault – claimed to have lost his voice, while another officer, U Kyaw Swar Linn, was on duty.

Only officer U Moe Win Sein gave testimony at Maha Aung Myay Township Court yesterday. He said under questioning that immigration officers had come to his police station to ask for cooperation in U Gambira’s case. In his testimony, he said that immigration officers did not show him any evidence. He was unsure whether evidence had been given to the head of the police station.

Rights groups have expressed concern that the charge may be politically motivated and have called for the activist to be immediately and unconditionally released.

Bail was denied on February 10. Yesterday U Gambira’s lawyer, U Robert San Aung, submitted a second application, this time with a recommendation from a doctor in Thailand who has previously treated the accused.

The defence is arguing for bail on health grounds, as U Gambira suffers from severe mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, related to his imprisonment following the 2007 protests, when he alleges he was tortured.

U Gambira was sent back to Mandalay’s Oboe Prison at the end of the hearing. He will next appear in court on February 23, when the judge is expected to rule on the second bail application.

U Gambira’s brother, Ko Aung Kyaw Kyaw, said yesterday that the decision to grant bail would largely hinge on the opinion of the prison doctor. He said he believed it would be difficult to get the doctor’s support.

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/mandalay-upper-myanmar/19021-police-testify-over-u-gambira-s-arrest.html