Nine political prisoners dismiss defence lawyers

Oct 8, 2008 (DVB), Nine political prisoners have decided not to enter a defence during their trials in protest at the unfairness of the legal proceedings, their lawyer Khin Maung Shein said yesterday.

Pyi Phyoe Hlaing and eight others dismissed central court lawyers Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein when they went to court in Insein jail yesterday for a hearing today.

Khin Maung Shein said they had decided not to cooperate with the court because they had no faith in the Burmese judicial system.

"Their demands are to be allowed to see their family members and for their family to be permitted to attend their court hearings, to receive a fair trial, and for the authorities not to interfere with the judicial process," Khin Maung Shein said.

Pyi Phyoe Hlaing, Nay Hlin Aung, Phyoe Maung Maung Soe, Myat Hlin Htut, Thiha Aung, Thein Zaw, Aung Myo Paing, Thiha Thet Tin and Pyi Phoe Aung are students from Bassein and Ma-Upin universities.

They were arrested last year along with 10 other people who have since been released.

They have been charged with illegal border crossing, attending training given by subversive organisations, defaming the state and violations of the printing act.

Khin Maung Shein said that the group's decision to dismiss their lawyers would mean that they would automatically be convicted.

"The prosecution will put their argument but if there are no lawyers for the defence then there will be no cross-examination," Khin Maung Shein explained.

"They will automatically be charged and if they do not put forward a case for the defence in their trial, then the trial will be over," he said.

"The sentence will be passed after a unilateral trial."

Reporting by Aye Nai

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