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Lawyer suspended two years for criticizing court

(Mizzima/IFEX) - The following is a 6 July 2007 statement from Mizzima News, an interim member of IFEX:

Lawyer suspended two years for criticizing court

On 29 June 2007, the Supreme Court suspended a lawyer from practice for two years after finding him guilty of violating section 10(1) of the Burma Bar Council Act by "criticizing and attacking a court ruling".

The Act states that lawyers who are found guilty of "bad morality" can be dismissed or have their license suspended.

Thein Nyint, 63, was said to have attacked a Supreme Court judgement on a land eviction case during an interview with the Washington D.C.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) Burmese programme in January 2005.

In the radio interview, Thein Nyunt, who has been a lawyer for 25 years, had commented on a 2004 case in which he had defended a family of eight from being evicted from where they had been staying for more than 20 years. They lost the case and were later charged and found guilty of resisting eviction. The Supreme Court sentenced all to four months in prison on 30 December 2004.

Commenting on the judgment itself, Thein Nyunt had cited "make justice injustice, make injustice justice" from an official court publication.

The Supreme Court, in sentencing Thein Nyunt, said he had exaggerated the situation and had concocted for the broadcast media a malicious account against the state. The court claimed that by criticizing the court ruling, Thein Nyunt had also created misunderstanding among the public about the kind of justice rendered by the state's judicial system.

"My argument in the said case only cited what former Chief Justice U Thein Maung said in the first Justices meeting, which appeared in the official publication of the Supreme Court itself, which says 'make justice injustice, make injustice justice'. (Yet) they (found fault with) these words in the judgment and handed down this order and suspended my license," said Thein Nyunt, whose appeal against his suspension was dismissed.

Thein Nyunt is also an "elected" representative of the Thingangyun constituency in Rangoon under the shadow Parliament formed by the National League of Democracy, whose right to govern following a landslide election win in 1990 was denied by the junta.

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