A Burmese army officer who said Lahtaw Brang Shawng confessed to working with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) testified on Monday that he did not torture the defendant during interrogation.
|On June 17, Brang Shawng (shown here) was detained in a refugee camp in Jan Mai Kawng Baptist Church in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in northern Burma. Photo: Kachin News Group|
Brang Shawng was arrested by Burmese authorities in the Jan Mai Kawng Internally Displaced Persons camp on June 17 under suspicion of involvement in a bombing operation and having contact with the KIA.
In a hearing on July 13, the defendant’s lawyer, Ma Hka, was successful in introducing a list of wounds suffered by Lahtaw Brang Shawng into the court record, including burns on his face, stab wounds and beatings. He said his client was now suffering from a mental problem, illustrated by illogical laughter for no reason.
Major Kyaw Zwa Lin failed to appear at a court hearing on July 11.
Defense lawyer Ma Hka said, “When I cross examined him before the court, I asked if he knew the law does not allow the use of torture. He replied they know they can’t use torture. I asked why he tortured Brang Shawng. He replied that they didn’t really torture him but examined Brang Shawng according to the correct procedures.”
Kyaw Zwa Lin testified that Brang Shawng confessed to being a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) sergeant from 2011 until 2012. He said he participated in a KIA drug eradication operation in Sadung area in 2006 and attended bomb training in 2011.
Lawyer Ma Hka said his client only confessed after suffering days of torture at the hands of military intelligence officers.
“Lahtawng Brang Shawng is not a KIA soldier and has no connection with the KIO. He was forced to confess under serious torture. Military intelligence did not uncover any evidence so they needed to torture him to get a confession to use in court,” said Ma Hka.
Kyaw Zwa Lin said he didn’t think Lahtaw Brang Shawng was involved in a bombing, but it was one of the reasons they arrested him, said Ma Hka.
On July 6, over a thousand Myitkyina residents led by pastors from the Kachin Baptist Church took part in one of the largest peaceful demonstrations in Kachin State while calling for the release of Brang Shawng and other Kachin arrested under Act 17/1, which forbids contact with an illegal association.
On July 12, the Kachin Baptist Convention sent a petition to President Thein Sein asking for his release.
Judge Myint Htoo scheduled another court hearing on Monday and asked Major Kyaw Zwa Lin to return at that time.