Court denies bail to Kachin peace activist

YANGON — Despite his deteriorating health, U Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, 43, was denied bail Monday at his trial’s fourth court hearing to face charges of allegedly defaming Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing with a Facebook post, witnesses said.

During the hearing U Patrick Khum Jaa Lee suffered what was believed to be an asthma attack. Wheezing and struggling to breathe, several police officers supported him out of the Hlaing Township court from where he was transported to a nearby medical clinic, witnesses attending the court hearing said.

His wife, gender equality and peace activist Daw May Sabe Phyu, said it was “irrational and heartless” for her husband’s failing health to not be considered by the courts. U Patrick Khum Jaa Lee’s blood pressure remains alarmingly high at 160 to 170, she said.

U Patrick Khum Jaa Lee’s lawyers expect him to be returned to the notorious Insein prison Monday evening. He was arrested last month after being accused of sharing a Facebook photo of a person in Kachin clothing standing on the head of U Min Aung Hlaing.

He is being charged under article 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail. His wife has said he did not share the photo but commented on it.

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The next hearing of the trial was scheduled for December 3.


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