Myanmar attorney Khin Maung Zaw has been assigned by the leadership of the now-deposed National League for Democracy (NLD) to represent state counselor and de facto national leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, now both being held under house arrest, in their trial on charges brought by Myanmar’s new military leaders. Here, Khin Maung Zaw speaks with RFA’s Myanmar Service in an exclusive interview:
RFA: We have learned that you are going to represent the detained NLD leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. Can you tell us how you became involved in this case?
Khin Maung Zaw: I was asked by the NLD’s Central Executive Committee to take up these cases, and I now have a written request from them to represent Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged under Section 8 of the Import and Export Law with the ownership of illegal walkie-talkies, and President Win Myint under Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Prevention Law. These are two separate cases.
RFA: Will you be their only attorney? Have you been able to meet with them?
Khin Maung Zaw: I will be assisted by Supreme Court lawyer Daw Min Min Soe and High Court lawyer U Rashid in the proceedings, and we are now preparing all relevant documents. Normally when a case is assigned to us we have to take the general power agreement [General Power of Attorney] to the accused for them to sign.
So with the letter from the NLD, we went to the houses of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint yesterday, as they are both under house arrest, but we couldn’t get in, and so we went to the township police officer who made the arrests to ask him to let us see the leaders. He said he didn’t have the authority to do this and told us to ask the District Police Chief.
But the latter told us he was too busy and didn’t have time to see us. We tried again today, but without success. We hope to see him soon.
RFA: Do you think that the authorities will allow you to meet with your clients?
Khin Maung Zaw: The accused has the right to meet with their legal representative, according to the Prisons Manual. We had this same experience in the case of Reuters correspondent Wa Lone, whom we were able to meet only at the end of the remand period. We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
What we really want is an acquittal. We believe that they have done nothing illegal, as the charges against them now say. And look at the case of the president. Even though Myint Swe is now the acting president, Win Myint is legally still the president because he was not impeached, and only an impeachment can remove a president from his position.
Under Section 215 of the Constitution, the president does not have to answer to any criminal charges. The remand period will end on Feb. 17, and they will have to be in court by then. I don’t know whether the accused will appear in a virtual court or not, but I have the right to see them.
Reported by RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane.