Family members demand military hand over soldier to civil court to face charges of sexual assault of a minor

January 9, 2020

HURFOM: On December 28, 2019, a sergeant lieutenant from the Southeast Command was reported to have sexually assaulted an 11-year-old minor in Naung Kha Ri Ward, Mawlamyine, Mon State.

25-year-old Sergeant Lieutenant Ohm Than lived in a house in the compound of the victims family. On December 28, 2019, the neighbors witnessed the sergeant sexually assaulting the minor.

Her father was going on a trip on the day when the incident took place. When we went to the police station to file a charge, the police didn’t accept our lawsuit [because] the culprit was from the military. They said they could do nothing without the (victim). However, the father was unwilling as there was pressure from [the military]. So we asked Daw Khine Kine Lei, the Chair of Mon State Parliament Woman and Child Rights Committee and she told the Township Administrator to give us a hand. The Township Administrator told the village administrator who in turn told the father (to press charges against the sergeant). Then the father filed a lawsuit against the soldier in the police station,” said U Myint Thein, the President of Bright Star Interfaith and Human Rights Support Group.

According to the charges, the sergeant had repeatedly assaulted the minor.

The Mu Pon Police Station charged the sergeant under the Burmese Criminal Act #377 – Punishment for Unnatural Offenses, with the potential of life imprisonment or 10-year imprisonment and/or fine.

On the day we (filed) the charge against the sergeant, two military officials came [to the police station] and monitored the process. They wanted the case to be handled by the military court. We want the military to depose the sergeant and handover him over to civil court. He has committed such a horrible crime so he should be punished. If he gains impunity, he’ll assault another one,” said a family member.

The victim had a medical check at the Mawlamyine General Hospital on January 2, 2020, according to Police Captain Aung Nyne Oo, the Chief of Mu Pon Police Station.

We did a medical check-up but haven’t gotten the results yet. The sergeant was jailed in the Southeast Command. [The military] hasn’t handed over him to us yet,” said the Police Captain.

The police force requested the military hand over the sergeant to civil court on January 7.

The military replied that they have to depose the sergeant in accordance with military law first. After that they will hand over to civil court. Currently, the sergeant is being detained by the military. They said they would contact us after they finished the military procedures. If the military doesn’t hand over the culprit to civil court, I’ll send the report to the Commander-In-Chief,” said U Myint Thein.

According to the Mon State Police Force, in 2018, there were 80 rape cases and among them, 57 cases involved minors. From January to November, 2019, 69 out of 90 rape cases involved minors.

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