U Gambira and Zarganar dismiss lawyer

Oct 21, 2008 (DVB), The lawyer for prominent detainees Zarganar and U Gambira has said that his clients are to dismiss him in protest at the way the authorities have handled their trial.

Lawyer Aung Thein had previously said he would withdraw his representation from 11 of his clients, including comedian and activist Zarganar and high-profile monk U Gambira, in protest at the court's refusal to allow him sufficient time to prepare a defence.

But now Aung Thein said the instruction was coming from his clients.

"They are planning to tell the court that they are dismissing their lawyer. We are following their wishes," Aung Thein said.

"If you look at Insein special court, the reason they rejected their defence lawyer is that they feel that the form of the trial is not correct," he said.

"They are not asking questions and they are not instructing their lawyers, and this shows that they are rejecting representation."

U Gambira is to proceed without legal representation for 15 of the 16 charges against him, while Zarganar is facing four charges.

Aung Thein said he did not yet know for which charges his clients would continue without a lawyer, but said he would continue to represent them on any other charges.

When asked about his clients' health, Aung Thein said U Gambira had been receiving medical attention at Insein prison clinic but was still appearing in court.

Ma Nyein, a relative of Zarganar, said that she had visited him at the prison on Saturday and his health was suffering, although he did not yet need hospital treatment.

The next hearing is on Wednesday.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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