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Htin Kyaw's lawyer denied access to court

Dec 27, 2007 (DVB), Detained activist Htin Kyaw's lawyer was refused entry to Insein prison court yesterday where his client was attending a hearing, according to lawyer U Aung Thein.

U Aung Thein went to the court hearing with Htin Kyaw's defence lawyer, but said that neither of them was admitted to the courtroom.

"Htin Kyaw was brought to Insein prison court today but only the judge, the government legal advisor, and the prosecutor, deputy police chief Kyaw Tint, were allowed in the courtroom," U Aung Thein said.

Htin Kyaw's hearing was due to be held at Pabadan court on 18 December but was postponed and moved to another location after it attracted a high level of public attention.

U Aung Thein said that the denial of legal representation was against Burmese court regulations.

"Htin Kyaw right to a proper defence was violated; this is a really ugly situation," Aung Thein said.

Under legal regulations, Aung Thein said that the court hearing should have been open to the public and Htin Kyaw given access to an independent defence lawyer.

Yesterday marked the 27th day that Htin Kyaw has been on hunger strike, demanding the release of political prisoners.

Htin Kyaw's wife, Ma Than Than Maw, met him the day before his court hearing and said he was losing strength.

"He was very, very weak and seemed too tired even to talk," she said.

The outcome of today's hearing was an extension of Htin Kyaw remand, and it is not clear how long he must now continue to wait for his trial.

Reporting by Maung Too

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