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Charges dropped for man in Arakan Army Cup ‘unlawful association’ case

Ann Thar Gyi was released from prison on Wednesday after "unlawful association" charges against him were dropped.

One of three defendants in an unusual “unlawful association” case involving a football tournament organised last year in honour of the Arakan Army was allowed to walk free on Wednesday.

“Ann Thar Gyi was arrested in connection with the charges against U Nanda Thara and Khaing Ni Min,” said defence lawyer Tun Hla.

“As the prosecution against the abbot Nanda Thara has continued, some witnesses have been called in to testify. There is no evidence [against Ann Thar Gyi]; it was not apparent that he has a connection with the abbot. So, the criminal suit against him was terminated.”

Ann Thar Gyi, also known as Than Shwe, is chairman of the civil society group Thingaha Kan Lett Rakhita, which is extensively involved in social work in Rakhine State.

He appeared before a court in Mrauk-U Township, Rakhine State, for his 14th hearing on Wednesday, when he walked free after being detained for more than four months.

The trial against Khaing Ni Min and Nanda Thara will continue, the latter being the abbot of the Mya Tansaung Monastery in Mrauk-U. They were detained in April 2017 after organising a football match dubbed the “Arakan Army Cup” to commemorate the eight-year anniversary of the Arakan Army’s founding.

If found guilty, they face up to three years in prison.

Several people have faced unlawful association charges for alleged ties to the Arakan Army in recent years, including 13 youths sentenced to prison in June 2016.