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Detained American’s hearing nears conclusion

New Delhi (Mizzima) - With the testimony of a defense witness on Tuesday, Rangoon’s Southern District court concluded witness hearings in the trial against Burmese-born American Kyaw Zaw Lwin, (alias) Nyi Nyi Aung.

“Both lawyers will present final arguments on January 22nd, and following that the court will hand down the verdict,” Kyi Win, one of the US citizen’s lawyers, told Mizzima.

The naturalized American has been standing trial on charges of fraud, forgery and illegal entry into the country.

“I don’t want to speculate on what the court will decide but our position is that the accused is innocent,” Kyi Win said.

The international lawyer of Nyi Nyi Aung, Beth Swanke, expanded on the legal position of the defense, claiming the
Nyi Nyi Aung
charges are a ‘sham’ and an attempt to frame and imprison the accused, as he is a known pro-democracy activist advocating for democracy and human rights in Burma.

Nyi Nyi Aung, a student activist at the time of the nationwide protests in 1988, was forced to flee Burma to Thailand along with fellow students as the military began cracking down on protestors. He later moved to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen.

Nyi Nyi Aung is the second American to stand trial in Burma in 2009, following fellow citizen John William Yettaw who was charged and tried for illegally entering the house of detained Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in May 2009.

Yettaw, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, was eventually sent back along with visiting US senator Jim Web.

In December, over 50 US congressmen urged the Burmese government to grant Nyi Nyi Aung the same treatment as Yettaw and allow him to return to the US.

The US Embassy in Rangoon, in an email message, told Mizzima that it is closely monitoring the case and “have pursued consular access vigorously from the time of Mr. Lwin's arrest. The United States continues to press the Burmese government to handle his case in accordance with international standards of due process.”

“The United States continues to work through diplomatic channels to achieve an overall positive outcome to the case,” Drake Weisert, Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the Embassy, subsequently told Mizzima on Tuesday.

“An Embassy consular officer met with Mr. Lwin at Insein Prison on December 28th for one hour. We continue to press for regular consular access,” elaborated Weisert. 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 January 2010 21:40 )  

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