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Court convicts Suu Kyi

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Court convicts Suu Kyi

Post by Admin on Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:07 pm

Burma pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to another 18 months of house arrest by a Burmese court on Tuesday.

The special court set up at Rangoon's notorious Insein Prison was originally scheduled to deliver its verdict on July 31 but postponed the decision until Tuesday, citing legal problems.

She was initially sentenced to three years injail with hard labour, but the sentrence was commuted to another 18 months under house arrest.

The case stemmed from a May 3 incident in which American national John William Yettaw, 53, swam, uninvited, to Suu Kyi's home on the edge of Inya Lake and stayed there until May 5.

The military junta said Yettaw's presence violated the conditions of the Nobel peace laureate's house arrest.

Yettaw was sentenced to seven years of hard labour.

Mrs Suu Kyi had argued it was not her responsibility to keep intruders out of the grounds of her home. It was the responsibility of the Burmese authorities who kept her imprisoned there.

The case is proving to be a major headache for Burma's powerful generals, caught between growing international pressure to free Suu Kyi and what critics say is their determination to keep her locked up during elections due in 2010.

Her lawyers argued during the trial that she could not be held responsible for Yettaw's actions, and that the legal framework for her initial detention at her house was under a 1975 law that has been superseded by later constitutions.

Suu Kyi told the court that she did not report the American to the authorities for humanitarian reasons. The junta says she gave food, shelter and assistance to Yettaw, who has diabetes.

Yettaw, a Mormon whose teenage son died two years ago in a motorbike crash, had testified that he swam to her house after receiving a "message from God" that he must protect Suu Kyi against a terrorist plot to assassinate her.

Burma's military regime is already under stiff US and European Union sanctions and diplomats said that the EU was set to impose further restrictions in the case of a guilty verdict.

But reclusive junta chief Than Shwe has stubbornly resisted all calls for Suu Kyi's release, and he snubbed UN chief Ban Ki-moon's requests to visit the opposition leader in jail when Ban visited Burma in July.

Ban is set to meet a 14-nation advisory group on Burma that includes the United States, Britain, Russia and China next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Democratic US Senator Jim Webb is due to visit Burma later this month -- the first US lawmaker to visit the country in more than 10 years.

State-run newspapers carried a commentary Tuesday that warned Suu Kyi's supporters not to cause trouble and told foreign countries not to meddle in Burma's affairs.

"The people who favour democracy do not want to see riots and protests that can harm their goal," said the version in the government mouthpiece New Light of Burma.

"Nevertheless, some persons who do not want national interest are resorting to a variety of means to disrupt the national goal, taking full advantage of the trial against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

The newspaper said the United States was "anxious to install a puppet government in Burma in order to expand its military power in Asia," warning that the country could "follow Iraq and Afghanistan".

(Bangkok Post)

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