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SPDC to prosecute Western proteste

SPDC  to prosecute Western protester 
06:29 a.m. May 11, 1998 Eastern 
YANGON, May 11 (Reuters) - A Westerner will go on trial on Wednesday in the
Myanmar capital Yangon, accused of entering the country illegally to
distribute anti-government literature. 

James Rupert Russell Mawdsley, 24, who holds British and Australian
passports, appeared at a pre-trial hearing in Yangon on Monday and calmly
heard a prosecuting official testify that he had entered the country
illegally in April. 

Presiding judge U Than Htwe said a trial would begin on Wednesday in the
northern district court near Insein jail in Yangon. Mawdsley will be charged
with violating Myanmar immigration laws. 

``He came to Mawlamyine (in Myanmar) from Mae Sot in Thailand through an
illegal route without permission, passport or visa, violating section 3 of
the Myanmar immigration act and he therefore will be charged under the said
act,'' a Myanmar immigration officer told the court. 

If found guilty, Mawdsley could face a prison term of six months to five
years, a fine of 1,500 kyat ($250), or both. 

The British and Australian ambassadors, who attended Monday's hearing, were
trying to organise legal representation for Mawdsley, consular officials
told Reuters. 

State-controlled Myanmar newspapers have accused Mawdsley of being a foreign
mercenary working for dissident groups opposed to the ruling Myanmar
military junta. 

One of those groups, the All Burma Students Democratic Front, said last week
that Mawdsley disregarded its advice and entered Myanmar in April to
distribute anti-government literature and actively seek arrest. 

His aim was to draw attention to human rights abuses by the Myanmar
government and its suppression of an opposition pro-democracy movement, it

Mawdsley was previously arrested by the Myanmar authorities in September
last year for chaining himself to a fence in central Yangon and shouting
anti-government slogans. He was subsequently deported. ^REUTERS@