DVB Multimedia Group

Judge skips bail ruling in ex-child soldier trial

Aung Ko Htwe, a former child soldier and defendant in a criminal suit being brought by the military, arrives at the Dagon Seikkan Township Court for his first hearing in August 2017. (Photo: Pyae Pyae)

The judge at the trial of former child soldier Aung Ko Htwe today failed to rule on the defendant’s request for bail, despite motioning at a previous hearing on 8 September that she would pass judgment on bail at his next court appearance.

The judge reportedly said she would delay deciding on the bail request until she had read the opposing arguments of the government’s legal counsel.

Ex-child soldier, Aung Ko Htwe, now 26, was arrested last month on charges of “inciting public unrest” over an interview he gave with Radio Free Asia which detailed his two years of servitude in the Burmese army, starting when he was just 14.

His lawyer, Zaw Min Hlaing, told reporters outside the courthouse in Rangoon that the judge was free to rule on the bail request but delayed making a decision.

“It is worth questioning the judge’s rationale,” Zaw Min Hlaing said. “She could clearly make a decision today but decided to skip to the next hearing.”

Under the charge of “inciting public unrest” in Burma – Article 505 (b) – a defendant is not eligible for bail unless the judge rules it an exceptional case.

Nay Zar Htun, a sister of Aung Ko Htwe, said, “My brother is suffering from heart disease. We gave him traditional medicines from our family doctor, but we have no intention of requesting medical records from the prison doctor.”

She told DVB that her brother’s family members had decided not to accept medical records from the prison where he is being held because they worry that something might go wrong if he is treated in prison.

Aung Ko Htwe’s next court appearance is slated for 2 October.