US detainee in Burma charged with fraud

Oct 15, 2009 (DVB), Charges of fraud have been leveled at the US citizen being held in a Rangoon prison, according to his lawyer.

The Burmese-born US citizen Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, appeared in Rangoon's Insein prison court yesterday, his lawyer Nyan Win said.

"He was charged for two separate accounts of fraud for using a fake identification card," said Nyan Win. "The trial hasn't started yet; today's court appointment is only to hear the prosecution."

Nyan Win, who represented Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in her recent trial, said that were prepared and would "go step by step".

Kyaw Zaw Lwin was arrested in September upon arrival at Rangoon International Airport. There had initially been speculation that he was being held for masterminding a series of bomb blasts that hit Rangoon in mid-September.

A counselor form the US embassy in Rangoon was at yesterday's court hearing, said Nyan Win, adding that "they were seated far from the judge's desk so they couldn't hear anything well".

He added however that the embassy "has offered to provide us with necessary assistance for their citizen".

An aunt of Kyaw Zaw Lwin said the family was not allowed to be present at the court hearing despite a formal request made earlier this month.

"We wrote a letter to the prison authorities asking for permission to attend the court hearing. But we didn't get any response," said Khin Khin Swe. "Next week we will try addressing the Ministry of Home Affairs."

Kyaw Zaw Lwin was mentioned in an article in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper last month that appeared to link him to bombings in Rangoon on 16 and 17 September, two weeks after he was arrested.

Another aunt, Su Su Kyi, told DVB last month that US embassy staff who visited him in prison reported that he had been denied food for eight days and showed signs of being beaten.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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