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Court holds hearing in Ava Tailor abuse case

The defendants in the Ava Tailors abuse case are escorted into the Western Rangoon District Court on 13 October 2016. (Photo: DVB)

The Western Rangoon District Court held a hearing on Thursday in the high-profile case of a family accused of severely abusing two young girls who worked at their tailor shop in downtown Rangoon.

The six defendants, all members of the family that owns the well-known Ava Tailors garment shop on 40th Street in Kyauktada Township, were represented by four lawyers at the hearing.

The court heard a statement from the prosecution, led by Major Myo Thein of the Anti-Human Trafficking Police.

The accused face charges under the Penal Code for unlawful confinement and causing grievous bodily harm. They are also being charged under the 2005 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law for offenses that carry penalties of 10 years to life in prison.

Hnin Su Aung, the lawyer for Thiri Lat, the oldest daughter in the family, said that her client’s defense would be based in part on the testimony of other servants who have worked for the family.

“Thiri Lat has her own maid at her house who has been summoned to the court to give testimony in the trial. The Anti-Human Trafficking Police chief has also interviewed the maid. The said maid lived at Thiri Lat’s home and she did not have any injury, according to a statement she provided,” said Hnin Su Aung.

“The fact that her maid was unharmed indicates that Thiri Lat did not abuse her. I will try my best to prove [Thiri Lat’s] innocence.”

Before turning herself in to the police in late September, Thiri Lat made a post on her Facebook page asserting that she was innocent and has never abused her maid.

The victims, San Kay Khine, 17, and Thazin, 16, started working at the Ava Tailor garment shop in 2012, but claimed they didn’t receive any payment after 2014. They also allege that members of the family inflicted disfiguring injuries on them as punishment for minor mistakes and displays of disobedience.

The court set the next hearing for 20 October.