BANGKOK—A Burmese court has jailed two lawyers for six months after they tried to call a government minister as a witness in a case against two people accused of demonstrating against the military regime, Burmese sources said.
Lawyers Nyi Nyi Htwe and Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min were handed jail terms of six months each at the Northern District Court in the former capital of Rangoon on Thursday, two of the men's associates said in interviews.
Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min is now in hiding and was sentenced in absentia. Nyi Nyi Htwe was taken into custody Oct. 29 at a teashop near the Hlaing Thayar courthouse, witnesses said.
"He was having tea with us, and an official from the Hlaing Thayar courthouse came and said Nyi Nyi Htwe was being called for investigation of the case," one witness said.
Relatives of two of his clients, Myo Kyaw Zin and Yan Naing Htun, accompanied him to the police station, the witness said.
"When they came back, they said he had been arrested and gave us the books. They gave us all of his books and his files, and also his watch. He was put in jail, and that's why we were given his watch." Suu Kyi protest
"The Hlaing Thayar judge has charged us under Criminal Act 128. They said we are delaying the investigation of the case," Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min said, speaking from an undisclosed location after being told his arrest was imminent on Wednesday.
Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min and Nyi Nyi Htwe appeared in court Oct. 23 with their clients, 11 youths who staged a protest march in the former capital, Rangoon, on May 15, wearing t-shirts calling for the release of detained opposition leader Aun San Suu Kyi, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min said.
At that hearing, three of the youths called Information Minister Gen. Kyaw Hsan as a witness, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min said. The judge told the lawyers to control their clients, but Nyi Nyi Htwe replied that he was required to represent his clients' wishes.
Nyi Nyi Htwe "went to the court to see the judge," he said. "There's a reason for seeing the judge. The nature of this case is such that if apologies to the judge and the court are made to their satisfaction, they'll have to dismiss the case. He—my friend, the lawyer—went to discuss this."
Original reporting in Burmese by Ko Nay Lin and Tin Aung Khine. Burmese service director: Nancy Shwe. Written and produced for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han and edited by Luisetta Mudie.