Myanmar jails activists for "court interruption"
YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's junta sentenced nine leading democracy activists to six months in jail for interrupting a judge during a closed trial inside Yangon's infamous Insein prison, their lawyer said on Thursday.
The nine, who include Min Ko Naing, the former Burma's most high-profile political prisoner after Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, had argued that their cases should be heard in open court, their lawyer, Aung Thein, said.
The reason for their jail term was officially listed as 'interrupting a public servant at a judicial proceeding', he said.
"The presiding judge asked the lawyers to leave the court and passed the punishment on them when they insisted on open trials so that their families could attend," he told Reuters.
Most of the nine were arrested in August 2007 for organising peaceful protest marches against a shock hike in fuel prices. The marches quickly snowballed into mass demonstrations against decades of ruthless military rule.
Human rights groups say more than 2,100 people are behind bars in Myanmar on account of their political or religious beliefs.
(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Sanjeev Miglani)
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