Argument breaks out at 88 Students' court hearing

Oct 1, 2008 (DVB), An argument broke out in court yesterday at a hearing for members of the 88 Generation Students group over the use of the term defendants when they have not yet been charged.

A hearing was held yesterday at Insein prison special court for 35 members of the 88 Generation Students group on accusations of a breach of article 6 of the Unlawful Associations Act.

When the accusations were read out, the 88 students disputed the use of the term 'defendant', according to U Aung Thein, lawyer for the group.

"[The other] side protested that the accusations were just being read out as written on the paperwork," Aung Thein said.

"But [the 88 students] insisted that they were not yet defendants, they were only suspects, and they asked the court to use the appropriate terms," he said.

Aung Thein explained that the term 'defendant' implied that they had been formally charge, which he said was not the case.

"At this stage, [the suspect] is in a position where he could still be released. The case could also be withdrawn," Aung Thein said.

"When he is standing trial as a defendant, you can use that term," he went on.

"But you can’t label him a ‘defendant’ straight away, because he could be released without being charged."

The trial of Ko Htin Kyaw, who led protests against high commodity prices last year, is continuing at the court near the prison entrance.

He has refused to be tried at the township court in protest at a series of delays and time-wasting by the court.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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