Discrepancies highlighted in US citizen trial

Nov 23, 2009 (DVB), The lawyer for an American citizen currently standing trial in Burma last week highlighted what he said was an inconsistency in one of the key charges brought against his client.

The Burmese-born United States' citizen, Kyaw Zaw Lwin (also known as Nyi Nyi Aung), is standing trial in a Rangoon courtroom on charges of fraud and of carrying excessive amounts of the Burmese currency into the country.

He was arrested in early September upon arrival at Rangoon International Airport, with initial speculation that the Burmese government had linked him to a Rangoon bomb plot.

His lawyer, Nyan Win, said that testimonies from four prosecution witnesses were heard in Friday's court hearing.

"Nyi Nyi Aung was accused of possession of Burmese currency exceeding value of $US2000," he said. "But by the time he was arrested, he was still waiting in a queue to reach the airport's custom checkpoint to make a personal declaration [of the items and money he was carrying.]"

"The government prosecutors said they had already handed a declaration form to passengers to fill out on the plane before it landed," he added.

"[Nyi Nyi Aung] handed that to the officials so he didn't have to go through the custom check point. This is an interesting point."

The defendant was recently allowed to see his relatives for the first time since he was detained in Rangoon's Insein prison on 3 September, a family member told DVB.

His aunt said in September that US embassy staff who had visited him in prison reported that he had been denied food for eight days and showed signs of being beaten.

Meanwhile, another lawyer for Nyi Nyi Aung, Kyi Win, has been appointed as deputy chair for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party's legal-advisory committee.

Kyi Win, along with Nyan Win, had represented detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during her three-month trial earlier this year.

The committee's duty is to assist the Central Executive Committee by providing legal advice to NLD members and civilians during trials. He will be joined by nine other lawyers in the committee.

"This committee will provide lawyers and legal assistance to NLD members and civilians by request when they are facing charges," said Kyi Win.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet and Thurein Soe

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