Myanmar Junta Still Denies Australian Advisor’s Access to Lawyer
By The Irrawaddy 30 September 2021
Myanmar’s junta is still not allowing lawyers to meet Sean Turnell, an Australian adviser to the ousted civilian government, and four senior government figures, including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who face trial this week.
Weekly hearings in the case against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, her Australian adviser Sean Turnell, former planning and finance ministers U Kyaw Win and U Soe Win and deputy planning and finance minister U Set Aung commenced last Thursday.
They were accused of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act after being detained amid the February coup. The case was originally due to be heard in Yangon’s Eastern District Court but in June the Union Supreme Court ordered that it be transferred to Naypyitaw.
The lawyers have applied to hold private meetings with their clients.
“The lawyers didn’t have a chance to meet their clients in person,” according to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team on Thursday. “The judge said he will hear arguments from both sides in the next adjournment.”
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi faces 10 charges, including the illegal possession of walkie-talkies, violation of COVID-19 restrictions, sedition, Official Secrets Act breaches and corruption allegations. One more case against her was recently filed in Yangon.
Her lawyers said they asked for private meetings for the Official Secrets Act charges. The 76-year-old has four court appearances this week – on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – facing 10 charges.
On Thursday, a police officer told the lawyers for the five defendants that they could not all fit in the small courtroom.
Each defendant was limited to two lawyers in the special court, according to the lawyers.
Turnell has also been charged under the Immigration Act. His family and the Australian government have repeatedly demanded his release.
The Australian Embassy told ABC on Monday that a consular official was not yet allowed to observe the court on Sept. 23, when he appeared in court.
On Thursday, an embassy representative went to Naypyitaw but was denied access to the special court, according to the defense lawyers.
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