Arrest warrants issued for six defence lawyers

Feb 2, 2009 (DVB), Authorities have issued arrest warrants for six lawyers who have been involved in cases defending political activists, according to a source close to the lawyers.

The six lawyers are Kyaw Ho, Myint Thaung, Maung Maung Latt, Aung Than Myint, Khin Htay Kywe, and Nyi Nyi Hlaing.

A Rangoon resident who is close to the lawyers said the authorities were trying to intimidate lawyers into not taking political cases.

"The lawyers are from the National League for Democracy so they offer their legal services in political cases," the resident said.

"When they do so, they openly express their legal arguments as permitted under the law," he said.

"[Lawyers] U Aung Thein, U Khin Maung Shein, and Ko Pho Phyu were arrested for that. The authorities want to scare lawyers away from people who are involved in politics."

The resident said the issuing of arrest warrants against the defence lawyers was also likely to hurt political activists now in detention.

"Political activists who are currently being detained are bound to suffer from the authorities’ action against lawyers," the resident said.

"Political activists have been oppressed for many years now and they are serving long prison terms in distant prisons and their families are suffering," he said.

"The issuing of arrest warrants against their lawyers is meant to weaken their resistance."

Kyaw Ho said he had not heard anything about an arrest warrant being issued against him.

This is the latest case of the authorities' harassment of lawyers dealing with political cases.

Lawyer Pho Phyu, who was taken into custody on 15 January, is still being detained in a police cell in Magwe.

Three other lawyers who have defended political activists , Nyi Nyi Htwe and Rangoon Supreme Court lawyers Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein , are currently serving prison sentences.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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