Aung San Suu Kyi verdict due on Friday
Aung San Suu Kyi verdict due on Friday
Trial of Burma’s pro-democracy leader, facing up to five years in jail, comes to end
The Nobel peace prize laureate is charged with breaking the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man to spend two nights at her home in May. She faces up to five years in prison if found guilty.
Last-ditch attempts to call Nyunt Maung Shein, Burma’s former ambassador to the UN, to testify in court were rejected.
Government officials and diplomats said the judge, Thaung Nyunt, had ended the trial and announced there would be a ruling on Friday. There has been little word yet on today’s proceedings. The media have been banned from the most of the trial, although diplomats from Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the US were allowed to attend today.
An official told Reuters that Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial had been completed, but cases against three other defendants were continuing.
“We have done our best and she is prepared for the worst,” her lawyer, Nyan Win, told reporters. “We don’t want to speculate, but we will keep exploring all legal avenues.”
The end of the trial came as Amnesty International awarded Aung San Suu Kyi its highest accolade, the title of ambassador of conscience, for leading the democracy struggle in Burma.
“Aung San Suu Kyi has remained a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defence of human rights, not only to the people of Myanmar but to people around the world,” Amnesty’s secretary general, Irene Khan, said.
The rock band U2 was due to announce the award at a concert in Dublin last night.
John Yettaw, a Vietnam veteran who was described by his wife as eccentric, said he swam across a lake to her home because he wanted to warn her that she was about to be assassinated by “terrorists”.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years, pleaded with Yettaw to leave and relented only after he claimed to be too ill to swim back.
Reports said Yettaw’s lawyer was due to defend his client against charges of trespassing, which carries a sentence of up to three months in prison.
Khin Maung Oo said at the weekend that he would attempt to win Yettaw, 53, a lenient sentence. “I will try my best to defend my client. I will argue that he did not violate the restriction order and I will try my utmost to get him lesser punishment,” he said.
Critics have denounced the trial as an excuse by Burma’s ruling military junta to keep Aung San Suu Kyi incarcerated during national elections due next year.
Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in elections in 1990, but the ruling generals refused to recognise the result.
The junta has so far resisted international calls for her immediate release. Last week, the state-controlled media accused the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, of “interference” after she said a satisfactory conclusion to the trial could lead to better economic ties with Washington.
The defence does not deny that Yettaw visited Aung San Suu Kyi’s compound, but argues that she cannot be charged under laws abolished in 1988. It blames her bodyguards for failing to apprehend Yettaw, who remained undetected for several hours.
Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 08:09 UK
Suu Kyi verdict ‘set for Friday’
The court presiding over the trial of Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver its verdict on Friday, her lawyer has said.
Ms Suu Kyi faces five years in jail if she is convicted of violating the terms of her house arrest by letting a US man stay in her home uninvited.
The trial had initially been expected to last a few days, but has now dragged on for more than two months.
Despite widespread calls for her release, a guilty verdict is expected.
Prosecutors argue that Aung San Suu Kyi must be held responsible for the midnight swim to her home by the American well-wisher John Yettaw in early May.
Her lawyers have argued that the law she has been charged under is part of a constitution abolished 25 years ago. In any case, they say, she cannot be responsible for the incident as she was living under tightly-guarded house arrest at the time.
Police are closely guarding the prison where the trial is being held
Defence lawyers gave their final statements on Tuesday, in response to the prosecution’s closing arguments the day before.
“The verdict will be given this coming Friday,” Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer Nyan Win told reporters after the session, adding that sentencing was expected on the same day.
An unnamed military official also confirmed that a decision would be announced on Friday.
Before the start of Tuesday’s session, Nyan Win said he held out hope for a verdict in Ms Suu Kyi’s favour.
“We are confident that we will win the case if things go according to the law, he told reporters.
But 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.
Nyan Win still holds out hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will not be found guilty
Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the last 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.
Diplomats from Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the US were allowed to attend the trial in its closing stages, in what analysts say is a sign that the government has belatedly recognised as the level of international anger at trying Ms Suu Kyi on such bizarre charges.
Despite the risk of arrest, hundreds of her supporters have been rallying outside the prison where she’s being held.
On Monday international human rights group Amnesty International named her as an “Ambassador of Conscience” – its highest honour – for her efforts to promote democracy.
Page last updated at 19:57 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 20:57 UK
Burma trial hears final arguments
Burma’s rulers have refused to heed global calls for Ms Suu Kyi’s release
The prosecution in the military government’s trial of the Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has delivered its closing arguments.
Ms Suu Kyi faces five years in prison if she is convicted of having violated her house arrest when an American man swam to her lakeside home uninvited.
Her lawyers, who are scheduled to deliver a response on Tuesday, say they expect a verdict in two to three weeks.
Unusually, diplomats were allowed into the court for part of Monday.
Lawyers also read closing arguments for the other defendants, two of Ms Suu Kyi’s housemaids and John Yettaw, the American intruder.
Ms Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Nyan Win, said a verdict could take as long as two or three weeks.
“We have to give our reply tomorrow, we have to give further arguments,” he said after Monday’s hearing.
“I do not think the court will give a verdict.”
He also said the defence team would ask to call a witness from the foreign ministry who allegedly stated that Ms Suu Kyi was detained “for her own security”
The trial has been held mostly behind closed doors, but diplomats from the United States, Singapore, Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Malaysia were allowed to attend the session on Monday morning, one of the diplomats told reporters.
Authorities only allowed a US consul to attend the afternoon session, because a US citizen was standing trial.
Hundreds of NLD members and supporters of Ms Suu Kyi rallied outside Insein Prison where she has been held since May. About 10 truckloads of security personnel were seen in the area.
Ms Suu Kyi, 64, has spent nearly 14 of the last 20 years in detention, much of it at her Rangoon home.
Polls are planned by the military government for some time next year. Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the last elections in 1988 but was never allowed to take power.
On Monday, international human rights group Amnesty International named Ms Suu Kyi as an “Ambassador of Conscience” – its highest honour – for her efforts to promote democracy.
The trial, which had been expected to wrap up in days when it started, has dragged on for more than two months.
Prosecutors argue that Aung San Suu Kyi must be held responsible for the midnight swim to her home by the American well-wisher, John Yettaw, in early May.
Her lawyers have argued that the law she has been charged under is part of a constitution abolished 25 years ago.
In any case, they say, she cannot be responsible for the incident as she was living under tightly-guarded house arrest at the time.
BBC South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says the fact that some defence witnesses and foreign observers have been allowed shows that the government belatedly recognised the anger stirred up around the world by trying Ms Suu Kyi on such bizarre charges.
But, our correspondent adds, all the indications are that she will still be found guilty. Burma’s ruling generals fear her popularity, and do not want her to play any role in next year’s election.