Friday, August 29, 2008

88 Gen students on trial inside prison

Mizzima News
Friday, 29 August 2008 22:54

Chiang Mai – A total of 35 student leaders of the 88 Generation Students were produced for trial inside Rangoon's notorious Insein prison for the first time on Wednesday.

The student leaders, who were arrested and detained since August last year, have been continuously remanded on different charges under various sections.

"The hearing has not yet started. The accused have been brought to court. This is the time they are being produced in court," lawyer Aung Thein, who has been following the case closely, said.

Aung Thein said, the student leaders have demanded for a free and open trial, according to international standards, allowing media to be present at the court, and requested not to handcuff them during the court proceedings.

"On Wednesday, I visited the prison and came back at about noon. Then I heard that over 30 accused were brought to court at about 3 p.m. the same day. Their judicial remand is due on that day," a family member of Ko Ko Gyi, one of the student leaders, said.

Reportedly, lawyers Kyi Win, Nyan Win and Aung Thein will act as the defence counsels for most of these student leaders.

Besides, a few other lawyers will also defend Saw Myo Min Hlaing a.k.a. James, Nyan Lin and Min Han from among the 88 Gen students, another lawyer Pho Phyu said.

The 35 accused that were produce before the court today were student leaders Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Pyone Cho, Jimmy, Mya Aye, Min Zeya, Aunt Phwe Kyaw, Kyaw Kyaw Htwe, Panneik Tun, Thet Zaw, Nyan Lin Tun and Zaw Zaw Min. All them were arrested in August 2007, after marching in protest against the sudden hike in fuel and commodity prices.

"I learnt that there are even women and 28 men among the 35 accused brought to court on Wednesday. We will know in detail on Monday," a man who visited the prison said.

The 88 Gen students were remanded with a new case under section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act last July. The student leaders were remanded under section 17/20 of the Printers and Publishers Act and later they were remanded with new cases under Law No. 5/96 (Endangering National Convention), section 33(a) of the Electronic Act.

If convicted, the student leaders will face up to three years in prison under section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act, five to 15 years in prison under 'Endangering the National Convention Law' (Law No. 5/96) and five to 15 years under section 33(a) of the Electronic Law, another advocate Khin Maung Shein, who also follow on the case, said.

Min Ko Naing and 13 other student leaders had spent at least 10 years in prison in their previous prison terms.

Meanwhile, Burma's prominent comedian Thura a.k.a. Zarganar and Reverend abbot Ashin Gambira were also produced before the court on Thursday inside the Insein prison but the trial was fixed for September 4, as the judges fail to turn up, Khin Maung Shein said.

"The judges had a meeting yesterday and could not hear the case. So comedian Zarganar cracked jokes in court all day and they were taken back in the evening," a friend of Zarganar, who was present at the court, said.

Nyan Win, spokesperson of Burma's main opposition party – National League for Democracy – said, "This is a continuous crackdown on political activists and the NLD. It is clear that they are continuing with their repression."

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