'Lawyers of the government' steering Suu Kyi trial

June 26, 2009 (DVB), A witness disqualified from testifying in the defense of Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi said yesterday following his appeal that it was not "ordinary lawyers" making key decisions in the trial but government cronies.

Suu Kyi's defense team yesterday appealed to Burma's supreme court to admit two witnesses who were disqualified last month by judges from testifying.

One of Suu Kyi's lawyers said that the decision was not in accordance with Burmese law. One of the witnesses, U Tin Oo, is currently under house arrest, while U Win Tin has been criticized by the junta for giving interviews about the trial to foreign media.

Both are senior members of the opposition National League for Democracy party, which Suu Kyi leads.

"I argued that there is no law there that says that [someone under house arrest], can’t testify," said lawyer Nyan Win.

"I argued that there is nowhere in the law that says that someone who doesn’t agree with the government can’t testify, with regards to U Win Tin."

Three of Suu Kyi's four witnesses were initially barred, although one was later readmitted. The prosecution team was permitted 14 witnesses, although only nine eventually testified.

Win Tin said yesterday that it was clear what the government's attitude towards Suu Kyi's team is.

"The people who put forward the [witness disqualification] argument are people from the central lawyers' office, the lawyers of the government," he said.

"I feel as if they are giving me a sign that they want to trap me legally, and sue me or intimidate me."

Rumours have been circulating in Rangoon that Win Tin could be charged by judges for refusing to return his prisoner uniform, which he has been wearing since he was released last year from a 19 year sentence.

On the subject of UN envoy Gambari's visit to Burma, which began this morning, Win Tin said that dialogue must be sought.

"When Mr. Gambari comes, he must meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – that must be his priority," he said.

"If he can’t do that, his trip has no meaning and has no value."

Gambari's trip could pave the way for a visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was invited by the government to visit in July, although he has not confirmed whether the trip will go ahead.

"The main thing Mr Ban Ki-moon has to do is to try to arrange a meeting between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Than Shwe," Win Tin said.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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