Myanmar rejects lawyer for Aung San Suu Kyi

May 16th, 2009 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Yangon, May 16 (DPA) Myanmar’s Supreme Court has rejected well-known political activist Aung Thein’s request to act as a lawyer for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her trial next week, the attorney said Saturday.
“Yangon Judge U. Aung Soe informed me Friday evening that the Supreme Court at Naypyitaw dismissed me from being a defence lawyer for Daw (Mrs) Aung San Suu Kyi,” Aung Thein told DPA.

“This dismissal letter came by fax from the Supreme Court in Naypyitaw stating that my licence was revoked,” he added.

Naypyitaw is the military junta’s capital, situated about 350 km north of Yangon.

Aung Thein was jailed from November to March for contempt of court in a case involving nine student activists linked to the National League for Democracy, the opposition party headed by Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since May 2003.

Aung Thein and co-counsel Khin Maung were sentenced to four months in jail for allowing their clients to criticise court procedures and express “no confidence in the court”.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. The judiciary is not deemed independent of the military.

Aung Thein volunteered to defend Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi at her trial beginning Monday on charges of allowing US national John William Yettaw to illegally enter her home this month.

Yettaw reportedly swam to Suu Kyi’s home-cum-prison on Inya Lake, spent three nights there and then swam away. He was arrested while emerging from the lake.

Suu Kyi was taken Thursday from her home to Insein Prison, where a prison court charged her with breaking the rules of her detention by allowing Yettaw to enter her compound and not informing authorities.

Critics of the regime claimed the junta is using Yettaw as a scapegoat to slap a new jail sentence on Suu Kyi, which would keep her out of politics while the military stages a general election next year.

Suu Kyi’s current jail term is due to expire May 27.

Yettaw reportedly first broke into Suu Kyi’s compound in December, an incident that Suu Kyi’s doctor reported to authorities. Nonetheless, he was allowed another tourist visa last month and appeared to have no problem swimming to Suu Kyi’s guarded residence.

Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San, an independence hero who was assassinated in 1948. She returned to Myanmar in 1988 to tend to her ailing mother and got caught up in the pro-democracy movement, of which she quickly became a leading figure.

She has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest. There are an estimated 2,100 political prisoners in Myanmar jails.

The pending trial Monday of Suu Kyi - and her two maids - and the likelihood of a renewed jail term, possibly in Insein Prison, has prompted condemnation and expressions of concern from the US, EU, the UN and some fellow members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

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