Lawyer Aung Thein withdraws representation

Oct 2, 2008 (DVB), Prominent lawyer U Aung Thein has said he is to stop representing clients such as U Gambira and other activists in protest at the court's refusal to allow him enough time to prepare a defence.

Aung Thein said he will no longer work on the cases of those detained for their involvement in last year's public demonstrations.

Contrary to legal requirements, Aung Thein said he had not been given sufficient time to gather evidence and prepare his clients' defence cases.

"I asked the court to give us enough time, and the court said, 'We can’t do that, we have to finish this case'," he said.

"U Gambira’s lawyer also said he could not conduct cross-examinations. After they refused to grant me enough time, I said I wouldn’t continue with the case , I would withdraw my representation."

Aung Thein added that it could never be fair for prosecutors to read out accusations against the suspects and not allow them to properly defend themselves.

The lawyer was particularly dismayed by the one-sided decisions passed against political prisoners by Ahlon township judge Daw Thiri Tin in Insein prison.

Aung Thein's clients include U Gambira and his brother Ko Aung Kyaw Kyaw, U Eindreia from Maggin monastery, U Eindaka from Mandalay, U Thumana, Ko Kyaw Naing from Myitche, Ko Than Naing from taungdwinggyi, Ko Wunna Maung from Mandalay, Ko Shwe Maung, and Ko Zaw Win.

Aung Thein said the court's decision not to allow him to cross-examine witnesses had also made it impossible for him to properly defend his clients.

He rejected the suggestion that his stance could make the situation worse for his clients, and said he had their full support.

"I consulted with the clients and withdrew representation with their consent. We can’t even think about the good or bad consequences," he said.

"The court took an instant decision and if we didn’t take an instant decision, what should we do? I had no other option but to withdraw my representation," he explained.

"The clients agreed that there was no justice and gave their signatures in support."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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