Lawyer and activists jailed for six months

Oct 31, 2008 (DVB), Defence lawyer Nyi Nyi Htwe and three of his clients have been sentenced to six months' imprisonment each for interrupting court proceedings, according to a friend of those jailed.

Nyi Nyi Htwe, who often represents youth activists, was charged under section 228 of the penal code along with Yan Naing Htun, Myo Kyaw Zin and Me Htwe (also known as Aung Min).

Another lawyer, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, was also charged on Friday and is now in hiding.

Nyi Nyi Htwe and Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min were defending 11 youth activists who were arrested after attending a prayer meeting to call for the release of detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

A friend of the defendants said when he had arrived at the court for their hearing he had found out that they had already been sentenced.

"I want to say that the defendants should have the opportunity to defend themselves and should have the right to a lawyer and a fair hearing," the friend said.

"But this is not happening , they have already been sentenced," he went on.

"In my opinion, they are deliberately oppressing political activists and those lawyers who are working for political activists."

In an interview conducted after the lawyers were charged on Friday, Nyi Nyi Htwe told DVB he felt the charges were deliberate intimidation.

"As a lawyer who handles political cases, I feel this is deliberate pressure," Nyi Nyi Htwe said.

"I already knew that my legal licence was not secure and that we could end up in jail at any time," he said.

"We didn't expect [to be charged], but now it's happened I'm not really afraid of going to jail or losing my licence , I'm already expecting it."

In a similar case yesterday, nine activists including 88 Generation Students leader Min Ko Naing were sentenced to six months in prison for interrupting judicial proceedings.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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