Saturday, January 23

Verdict Expected for Kyaw Zaw Lwin

A Myanmar court will hand down its verdict next week on an American charged with forgery and currency infractions after being accused of trying to foment rebellion against the country’s military rulers.Nyan Win, the lawyer for Myanmar-born Kyaw Zaw Lwin, said final arguments in his case were made Friday at the court inside Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, and a verdict is expected Wednesday.

Kyaw Zaw Win was arrested on Sept. 3 and initially accused of trying to stir up unrest which he has denied. Prosecutors later asked the court to charge him with forgery and violating the foreign currency exchange act.

He was put on trial in October and faces up to 12 years in prison.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin’s mother is serving a five-year prison term for political activities and his sister was sentenced to 65 years in prison for her role in 2007 pro-democracy protests, which government forces brutally suppressed, activist groups and family members say.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin staged a 12-day hunger strike in December to protest conditions of political prisoners in Myanmar, according to human rights groups.

Myanmar has one of the most repressive governments in the world and has been controlled by the military since 1962.

Rights groups and dissidents say the junta has jailed thousands of political prisoners, including pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Suu Kyi whose political party won 1990 elections that the military refused to recognize has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years, mostly under house arrest.

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