thejapannews– Win Htein, an NLD stalwart, was detained in early February after criticizing the coup led by Min Aung Hlaing and was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a tribunal in Naypyitaw on Friday.
The 79-year-old former military captain, who is in poor shape, arrived in court for the verdict at the Naypyitaw Detention Center, where he has been charged with treason under Section 124a of the Penal Code.
At around 3 pm, the two-judge tribunal presided over by judge Ye Lwin handed down the harshest possible penalty prescribed by law.
According to his defense lawyer, Myint Thwin, Win was prepared for a severe sentence, “He is firm in beliefs and resilient, so he was not fazed at all. Since the time he was detained and charged, he has told the court to hand down the sentence as it sees fit, no matter how many years it may be.”
Win Htein’s youngest daughter, who resides in Australia and has spent much of her life apart from her father, expressed her sentiments. She said that the sentence was not unexpected but unjust.
After the military deposed his party’s elected government in February, Win Htein was one of the few key NLD leaders spared. Later, he took advantage of his freedom and criticized the military in interviews with journalists.
Min Aung has acted “without thinking of what is right and wrong,” he had said, “I feel pity for him.” Days later, he was arrested at his home in Yangon.
The lawyer claimed that Win Htein made the remarks on the day of the coup because he felt he was responsible for informing the people about the emerging scenario as the leader of the toppled ruling party.
In 1976, Win Htein was forced to retire from the army on the accusations of participating in a plan to assassinate then-dictator Ne Win.
He started his own business and eventually became close to Aung San Suu Kyi, taking responsibility for her security during protests. In 1989, he was jailed for political activism and spent two decades in prison before being released in 2010.
Win Htein’s term will now be served in a separate jail. However, it is unknown which one.