Fri, Jun 12, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Suu Kyi says junta charges political

REUTERS , YANGON

Myanmar’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi believes her trial is an attempt by the country’s ruling generals to prevent her from running in multi-party elections next year, her lawyer said.

The Nobel laureate, who faces three to five years in prison if found guilty of breaching the terms of her house arrest, has urged her lawyers to “explore all legal avenues” to win the widely condemned case.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told us the trial and the charges against her were politically motivated,” Nyan Win said late on Wednesday after defense lawyers were allowed to meet the 63-year-old at her prison guesthouse.

“She instructed us to explore all legal avenues to take appropriate legal action,” he said.

A conviction is widely expected in the former Burma, where the courts have often bent the law to suit the military, which has ruled for nearly half a century.

A Yangon court on Tuesday upheld a ban on two of Suu Kyi’s defense witnesses but agreed to allow Khin Moe Moe, a legal expert, to give testimony.

Nyan Win said a second appeal to have the bans overturned would be lodged with a higher court yesterday.

The initial barring of the three witnesses outraged Suu Kyi’s supporters, who accused the junta of trying to sabotage her defense.

Suu Kyi is charged under Section 22 of an internal security law to protect the state from “subversive elements” after American John Yettaw swam across the Inya lake to her home on May 4, where he stayed for two days.

Yettaw told the court he was sent by God to protect Suu Kyi from “terrorists” seeking to kill her. He and two of Suu Kyi’s housemaids are also charged under the security law.

Suu Kyi’s next court appearance is scheduled for today, although her lawyers expect the case to be adjourned.

The pro-democracy icon has been detained for 13 of the last 19 years, mostly at home. Her latest stint of house arrest was lifted on May 26.

Western governments and Myanmar’s regional neighbors have expressed outrage at the trial, which critics say is aimed at keeping the charismatic National League for Democracy leader out of elections next year.

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