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Lawyer for Aye Maung says three charges for ‘one act’ is excessive

Aye Maung appears for a court hearing in Sittwe on Monday. (Photo: DVB)

The defence lawyer for politician Aye Maung has alleged prosecutorial malpractice in a case being brought against his client, in which the defendant is facing three separate charges after a speech he delivered in January.

Aung Kyaw Sein, the lawyer, said the apparent zeal with which prosecutors are pursuing the case against Aye Maung was not in line with existing law.

“According to the law, only one charge against the defendant can be filed for one act,” Aung Kyaw Sein told reporters on Monday, when his client appeared for a sixth court hearing in the trial.

“In this case, the two defendants — Aye Maung and Wai Hin Aung — have had three charges filed against them for one act, which was delivering a speech in Rathedaung. It violates sections 453 and 446 of the 2008 Constitution.”

Aye Nu Sein, the defence lawyer for Wai Hin Aung, echoed the sentiment of Aung Kyaw Sein.

Aye Maung and Wai Hin Aung are facing charges under the Unlawful Association Act, as well as the Penal Code’s sections 505 and 121, covering incitement and “high treason,” respectively.

According to a state media report of the remarks, both men’s speeches included Rakhine nationalistic rhetoric, though Aye Maung has repeatedly claimed that his words were taken out of context and mischaracterised.

Tuesday’s hearing saw the defence team cross-examine plaintiff Khin Maung Oo, the deputy administrator of Sittwe district.

A raucous crowd of supporters confronted police officers as they forcefully led Aye Maung into the local courthouse in Sittwe.

Aung Than Wai, one of the supporters at the scene, said: “There was a crowd of reporters, family members and supporters present at the courthouse. Confrontation might not have occurred if the officers had allowed Aye Maung to meet with and speak to the crowd for just five minutes.”

A sitting lawmaker and avowed ethnic Rakhine nationalist, Aye Maung previously chaired the Arakan National Party, though last year his relationship with the political party frayed and he tendered his resignation in late November.