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The son of a tycoon with reputed close links to Burma’s former junta has successfully challenged an European Union (EU) freeze on his assets, arguing that he should not be punished because of his father.
The Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg said in a statement released on Tuesday that it had annulled a 2008 regulation freezing the funds of Pye Phyo Tay Za, whose father Tay Za is the target of EU sanctions.
“Sanctions adopted by the Council in relation to a third country cannot be applied to natural persons solely on the ground of their family connection with persons associated with the leaders of that country,” it said.
Pye Phyo Tay Za, 25, lodged a complaint with the court in 2008 after he was put on a list of people who benefit from the Burma government’s economic policies.
While he won his case on appeal Tuesday, the ruling concerns only the 2008 regulation and not subsequent extensions, leaving it up to the EU Council of Ministers to decide whether to take him off the list, according to the court.
His father Tay Za, who owns a string of luxury hotels, the Burmese airline Air Bagan and the football club Yangon United, is subject to an EU visa ban and asset freeze.
Tay Za is also a top target of US financial sanctions and described as “a notorious regime henchman and arms dealer” by the US Treasury.
The EU has enforced sanctions on members of the Burmese government and their associates since the mid-1990s over its poor human rights record.
Last month it eased a travel ban on Burmese officials to encourage reformist moves by the new quasi-civilian government.
It is also reviewing other sanctions, which include an arms embargo, a ban on gems and an assets freeze on hundreds of people and entities.
Burma was ruled outright by the military for almost half a century until elections brought a new military-backed government to power last year.