Lawyers, Families Complain as Trials Begin of 37 Activists

source from Irrawaddy news, 14 Oct 2008,

The trials began in Rangoon on Monday of 37 political activists charged with a series of offences, including threatening the stability of the government.

The one-day appearances were closed to the general public, including the families of the accused, who protested against their exclusion.

The accused include several leaders of the 88 Generation Students movement, including Min Ko Naing. His trial was adjourned until October 27.

The accused face seven charges, including a provision of the criminal code covering crimes judged to threaten the stability of the government.

The trials are taking place in three locations—Insein Prison and court premises in Hlaing Tharyar Township and Kamaryut Township.

The accused also include Nilar Thein, a woman activist, and a prominent activist monk, Ashin Gambira, who were among the leaders of the September 2007 demonstrations, Htun Htun Oo, Maung Maung Latt, Aung Kyaw Moe, Si Thu Maung and Tar Tar Thet.

Gambira is charged with nine separate criminal offenses, including infringements of State Offence Act 505 A and B, Immigration Act 13/1, Illegal Organization Act 17/1, Electronic Act 303 A and Organization Act 6.

Gambira’s lawyer, Aung Thein, resigned his brief on October 1, complaining that he was not being allowed to prepare a proper defense

Another defense lawyer, Khin Maung Shein, said he would also resign his brief after the court refused to allow him to ask questions on behalf of his clients.

Both were asked by their clients to withdraw. “If we are asked by our clients to resign, then we have to [follow their instructions],” Khin Maung Shein said. “They asked us to resign not because they are not satisfied with our efforts but because they don’t want to cooperate with the courts’ schedule any longer.”
Meanwhile, detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Kyi Win, said no reply had yet been received to the legal appeal against her continuing house arrest, which had been handed in at Naypyidaw on October 8.

Suu Kyi’s latest five-year term of house arrest was extended in May for a further year—illegally, according to Kyi Win, because article 10 (b) of the Burmese State Protection Law 1975 stipulates that a person judged to be a “threat to the sovereignty and security of the State and the peace of the people” can only be detained for up to five years.

Suu Kyi has spent more than 13 years of the past 19 years confined to her Rangoon home.




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