Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lawyers denied entry to Insein prison court

(DVB)–Six members of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions and four others who were arrested after helping victims of Cyclone Nargis appeared in Insein prison court without their lawyers on 10 February.

Phyo Phyo Aung, her father Dr Ne Win, Shein Yarzar, Aung Thant Zin Oo, Aung Kyaw San, Phone Pyit Kywe, Yin Yin Waing, Tin Tin Cho, Ni Mo Hlaing and Myat Thu were arrested for collecting rotting corpses in the aftermath of the cyclone and burying them.

Kyaw Hoe, Khin Htay Kywe and Maung Maung Latt, the lawyers representing the ten people, were not allowed to enter the court on the orders of special branch, a lawyer said.

Lawyer Kyaw Hoe said that MPs-elect Nyi Pu and Dr Tin Ming Htut had also appeared at the court without legal representation.

Kyaw Hoe said it was special branch, not the prison authorities, who had barred him from attending.

The lawyers wrote a letter to Tin Htut, the presiding judge at Western Rangoon district court, but he also rejected their appeal on the orders of special branch.

National League for Democracy legal advisor Thein Nyunt insisted that action should be taken against those who interfere with court procedures.

"If we are to maintain the right to a free trial, the court has a duty to prevent outside interference," he said.

"It won't be a free trial if lawyers are not allowed to represent their clients; this should be reported to the court. Their relatives should also report it to justice ministry."

NLD members Ma Cho and Theingi were also denied legal representation on 11 February, when their lawyer Myint Thaung was refused access to the court to defend them, according to party spokesman Nyan Win.

The two women were arrested five months ago and charged with having contact with illegal organisations.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew and Aye Nai

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