High Court hears Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers’ arguments
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 19:26
New Delhi (mizzima) – Burma’s High Court on Wednesday heard defense arguments for allowing two more witnesses in the controversial trial against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but did not make any ruling on the matter.
Nyan Win, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, said the defense team argued it is in accordance with the law to allow the remaining two witnesses – Tin Oo, Vice-Chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and Win Tin, a veteran journalist and Central Executive Committee member of the NLD.
“The High Court doesn’t make immediate decisions and will take some time before announcing their decision. And we don’t know when that announcement will be,” Nyan Win said.
However, Nyan Win added that the High Court judges told them it might be impossible to accept Tin Oo as a witness as he is currently under house arrest.
The judges further explained, according to Nyan Win, that as Win Tin has given several interviews to the exile-based Democratic Voice of Burma, BBC and Radio Free Asia, in which he demonstrated a distinct difference of opinion to that of the authorities, he may not qualify either.
But Kyi Win, Aung San Suu Kyi’s primary lawyer, said the law prescribes that in finding the truth even criminals serving a death sentence can be brought as witnesses. “My instinct told me that this will be the kind of excuse they would use to reject Tin Oo. But the law permits the accused to call anybody as a witness, as long as the witness has relevance,” Kyi Win said.
He added that during his experience as a lawyer he has seen judges order a commission be sent to prisons to hear the testimony of prisoners claimed as witnesses for the accused.
With regard to the judges’ complaint concerning Win Tin, Kyi Win elaborated that everybody has the right to have their own opinion and having a different opinion to the government is not a crime.
“What we are fighting is for equal representation in front of the court and since the lower court [at Insein prison] has not mentioned any reasons for rejecting the defense witnesses, it is against the law [to exclude the candidates],” he added.
The Insein prison court where Aung San Suu Kyi is facing trial originally scheduled the hearing of the second defense witness– Khin Moh Moh – for Friday. But Kyi Win said there would be no hearing until the High Court makes the decision on whether to allow more witnesses.
The Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate, who has been under some form of detention for more than 13 of the past 19 years, is currently facing trial under charges of breaching her previous term of detention by ‘harboring’ an American man for two days at her lakeside home in early May.
Observers and opposition elements believe the trial, which could see Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to up to five years of further imprisonment if found guilty, is a pretext to continue detaining her in order to further clear the way for the junta’s planned 2010 general election – the country’s first since the military annulled a 1990 ballot, which saw the NLD emerge the clear winner.