RANGOON — Burma’s former Religious Affairs Minister Hsan Hsint has become seriously ill while in custody facing corruption charges, according to his family.
Hsan Hsint has been detained at Ramaethin Prison in Mandalay Division since his arrest on June 19, when he was forced from his position amid allegations of misusing funds from the national budget and sedition.
Hsan Myint, the former minister’s brother, told The Irrawaddy that Hsan Hsint has been suffering from heart disease for the past 10 years, and his health had deteriorated since he was arrested.
“A normal person has a heart rate of 70 to 80 bpm [beats per minute]. My brother has only 56 bpm. He doesn’t have a normal heart rate. A heart stroke could occur at any time,” said Hsan Myint, adding that he was seeking permission to have his brother treated outside of jail.
“The prison has its own doctor, but this kind of disease should be treated by specialists. So, I applied for a medical pledge at Datkhinathiri District Court, but they did not approve my proposal. Now, I will try proposing again at Mandalay Region Supreme Court.”
The Datkhinathiri court, in Naypyidaw, rejected the appeal, made on July 30, on the grounds that prison doctors could provide sufficient treatment to Hsan Hsint, he said.
“The doctors and physicians who are treating Hsan Hsint wrote recommendation letters saying that he needs to be hospitalized,” said another relative, Hla Soe.
“But he cannot go to hospital since he did not manage to get the pledge. If he gets a heart attack all of a sudden in Ramaethin Prison, it takes at least two hours to get to the hospital in Naypyidaw. All his family members are worrying about it.”
Hsan Hsint has been charged under Article 409 of Burma’s Penal Code—criminal breach of trust by a public servant—by Htay Lwin, the deputy director from Special Investigation Department at
Phayagone Police Station in Naypyidaw’s Otetarathiri Township.
The former minister has also been accused of breaching Article 124(A) of the Sedition Act by Police Major Khin Htay.
Hsan Hsint used to be the speaker of Irrawaddy Divisional Parliament, and supporters in the division’s capital, Pathein, staged a demonstration last month calling for his trial to be transparent and free.
However, the trial is being heard in a closed court, with only family members allowed into the court room.
Despite his ailing health, the former minister has been called to appear at the court in Datkhinathiri District for the seventh time on Tuesday. The plaintiffs and witnesses in the case include Soe Win, the new religious affairs minister and Hsan Hsint’s former deputy.