MYANMAR: DEATH ROW BOMBING CONVICT PARDONED
August 3, 2012: A man sentenced to death over a series of deadly bomb blasts in Myanmar's main city in 2010 was freed after receiving a presidential pardon, a police official and his lawyer told
Phyo Wai Aung, who was sentenced in May in connection with the bombings in Yangon which killed ten people and wounded dozens more, was released from a public hospital where he was being treated for liver cancer.
"He was released this afternoon under the president's pardon," a senior police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The official said his health was not good, and added that UN human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana had visited him in hospital as part of his wider trip to Myanmar.
Confirming the release, Phyo Wai Aung's lawyer said his client - who was aged 33 at the time of his sentence - was too ill to leave hospital.
"He cannot walk because of his severe liver cancer," Kyaw Hoe said, adding an appeal over his conviction is still set for August 14.
"We appealed... as he's not guilty and he didn't commit any crime."
The 2010 attack - the worst in five years in Myanmar's main city - came as thousands of people gathered for water-throwing festivities to mark the Buddhist New Year.
Police announced shortly afterwards they had arrested a suspect whom they said was a member of a militant exile group called "the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors".
The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) has alleged that Phyo Wai Aung was tortured, denied his rights as a detainee and the right to a fair trial.
According to Amnesty International, no death row prisoner in Myanmar is known to have been executed since 1988.
After five decades under a repressive junta, Myanmar has announced a series of reforms since a controversial 2010 election brought the new government to power.
The government, which is led by President Thein Sein, has freed hundreds of political prisoners - including 20 in an amnesty last month - and has been rewarded with an easing of many sanctions by western governments.
Democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, herself freed from seven straight years of house arrest in 2010 and now an elected politician, has repeatedly called for all remaining political prisoners to be released.
Her party had put the number of political prisoners at 330 prior to last months's amnesty, although estimates on the exact number vary. (Sources: AFP, 03/08/2012)