Friday, July 31, 2009

Verdict delayed in Suu Kyi trial

People gather near Insein Prison in Rangoon, 28 July 2009
Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi met as final statements were heard

A verdict has been delayed in the trial of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

She is accused of breaching the terms of her house arrest by allowing an uninvited US man stay in her home.

EU diplomats at the trial in Rangoon told the BBC that the court had delayed the verdict until 11 August, so that judges could review the case again.

Despite international calls for her release, a guilty verdict has been widely expected.

'Vision warning'

Ms Suu Kyi faces five years in jail if she is convicted.

She is accused of allowing American well-wisher John Yettaw to stay in her lakeside home in Rangoon after he swam there, evading her guards.

He has said he swam to her home to warn her he had a vision that she would be assassinated.

Lawyers for Ms Suu Kyi have not disputed the events, but say she had no control over the situation and that the guards around her home should have kept Mr Yettaw away.

Aung San Suu Kyi meets Thai, Singapore and Russian diplomats, 20 May

Her lawyers have also argued that the law she has been charged under is part of a constitution abolished 25 years ago.

The trial had initially been expected to last a few days, but has now dragged on for more than two months. Defence lawyers gave their final statements on Tuesday, in response to the prosecution's closing arguments the day before.

Analysts say the Burmese junta may use this trial to make sure the popular pro-democracy leader is still in detention during elections planned for early next year.

Her lawyer, Nyan Win, said Ms Suu Kyi was "preparing for the worst", stockpiling books and medicines.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won elections in 1988 but was never allowed to take power.

The 64-year-old has spent nearly 14 of the last 20 years in detention, much of it at her Rangoon home.

Unusually, diplomats from Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the US were allowed to attend the trial in its closing stages.

Analysts suggested that signalled belated recognition on the part of the government at the level of international anger over Ms Suu Kyi's prosecution.


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