By Ahunt Phone Myat
Burmese opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi has filed a lawsuit against her estranged brother for contempt of court. The claim was filed against both her brother, Aung San Oo, and a weekly news journal, for publishing an article in which he stated victory for the court case against her that is yet to reach a verdict.
Nyan Win, National League for Democracy’s Central Executive Committee member, and lawyer for Suu Kyi, said a lawsuit was filed at Rangoon division’s High Court on Monday against Aung San Oo, Monitor News Journal editor Myat Khine and publisher Hla Myint Swe. Last month Monitor News Journal published an article with quotations from Aung San Oo claiming success in his on-going court case against his sister. He had filed a lawsuit against Aung San Suu Kyi in 2001 demanding half-shares of the lakeside house in Rangoon that was passed down to both children by their late mother, and in which Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest for 14 years.
“Previously, U Aung San Oo filed a lawsuit against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for part-ownership of the house which is still on-going and yet to hear testimonials from her witnesses,” said Nyan Win.
“However, in July, Monitor news journal published an article with quotations from U Aung San Oo claiming victory for ‘major issues’ in the court case.”
He said the lawsuit was filed under article 2 and 3 of the 1926 Contempt of Court Act and has been accepted by the Rangoon Divisional High Court. The court is to make an announcement for court hearing appointments.
Nyan Win explained that Myat Khine, Monitor News Journal’s editor who wrote the article, and Hla Myint Swe, the publisher, were included in the lawsuit as the law sees editors and publishers as responsible for material printed in their publication.
However, Myat Khine argues that he was only writing what Aung San Oo told him.
“It was solely an opinion by the interviewee and the article was not even a news piece. In news, the writer has to claim responsibility for what he wrote but I just conducted an interview and U Aung San Oo answered,” said Myat Khine.
“I’ll save some things to say in court later. U Shwe Mann often mentions that no one should be above the law. I’ll accept the decision by the law.”
The article, which accuses Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of attempting to claim sole-ownership of the inherited house ‘by hook or by crook’, is the latest in a number of disputes between Aung San Suu Kyi and her brother over the property, now valued at about 3 million US dollars.
Aung San Oo first tried to claim part-ownership of the house in 2000, but his case was dismissed, because as a US citizen it is illegal for him to own property in Burma.