Burmese Military Intelligence Officer Kyaw Zwa Lin, who is a plaintiff in the Lahtaw Brang Shawng court case, told the judge he didn’t beat or torture the defendant.
Brang Shawng was arrested by Burmese authorities in Jan Mai Kawng Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp on June 17 under suspicion of being part of a bombing operation and having contact with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
Brang Shawng’s lawyer Ma Hka said Major Kyaw Zwa Lin, who was absent during the last court date on July 11, is denying causing any injuries to the defendant while he was questioned at a police station.
“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,” said Ma Hka.
Brang Shawng’s body was covered with several burn wounds when he appeared in court on July 11.
Kyaw Zwa Lin claimed Brang Shawng has confessed to being a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) sergeant from 2011 until 2012. Before this he participated in a KIA’s drug eradication operation in Sadung area in 2006 and attended bombing training in 2011. Kyaw Zwa Lin also claims Brang Shawng confessed to relocating to Jan Mai Kawng IDP Camp after nursing an injured KIA soldier in 2011.
Brang Shawng’s lawyer Ma Hka claims he 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. The military intelligences did not uncover any evidence so they needed to torture him to get a confession to use in court,” said Ma Hka.
During the July 16 court date Kyaw Zwa Lin said he didn’t think Lahtaw Brang Shawng was involved in the bombing but this is one of the reasons they arrested him, said Ma Hka.
The arrest and subsequent treatment of Brang Shawng has provoked both anxiety and anger from the Kachin community. Some people living in Jan Mai Kawng IDPs camp have reportedly moved away while others have taken to the streets.
On July 6, over a thousand Myitkyina residents led by pastors from Kachin Baptists Church took part in one of the largest peaceful demonstrations in Kachin State demanding the release of Brang Shawng and other IDPs arrested under Act 17/1, which forbids any contact with an illegal association.
On July 12, the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) sent a petition letter to President Thein Sein asking for his release.
The judge U Myint Htoo who is presiding over Brang Shawng‘s trial has set another court hearing on July 23. He asked Kyaw Zwa Lin to return for court proceedings.