'Prayer' activists appear in court

Jan 12, 2010 (DVB), The detained organizer of weekly prayer ceremonies that called for the release of political prisoners in Burma yesterday complained about prison conditions in a court appearance.

Naw Ohn Hla, along with three other 'prayer' activists, appeared at Rangoon's Insein prison court yesterday where judges heard testimonies from defence witnesses, according to their lawyer.

Kyaw Ho, a central court lawyer representing Naw Ohn Hla and her co-defenders Cho Cho Lwin, Cho Cho Aye and San San Myint in their trial, said their former school headmistress, Nyin Tin, testified in their defence.

"Nyein Tin said that she knew Naw Ohn Hla had visited pagodas every Tuesday and prayed for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners, but that did not break any law," said Kyaw Ho.

"There are seven more witness accounts to be heard. Since the court is hearing three witness accounts per each hearing every week, we expect that the verdict will be passed at the end of this month or early next month."

He said Naw Ohn Hla at the hearing complained about living condition in her Insein prison cell, which she shared with nine other inmates. She said that the temperature was too hot there even in the winter and it is posing a threat to inmates' health.

A hearing for 11 Arakanese youths accused of having links to the banned All Arakan Students' and Youths' Congress (AASYC) was also held in Insein yesterday.

"The group was charged under the Unlawful Association Act under accusations of having links with and assisting and supporting the AASYC in [Thailand's] Mae Sot," said lawyer Maung Maung Latt.

"Six of them were also charged with illegal border crossing. The prosecutors pressed an explosive charge upon one in the group named Mae Lone [also known as Naing Soe]."

Meanwhile, sources say a final verdict is to be passed upon three people, Sein Hlaing, Ma Cho (also known as Myint Myint San) and Shwe Gyo, who are accused of providing assistance to political prisoners.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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