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Junta delays Suu Kyi verdict

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-11-23

A Burmese court on Friday delayed its verdict in the case of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi until August 11, officials told the AFP. Suu Kyi is charged with breaching the conditions of her house arrest in her widely condemned trial.

The verdict regarding Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was delayed until August 11 by a Burmese court on Friday, prolonging once again her detention.


The Nobel peace laureate has been tried for allegedly breaching the conditions of her house arrest, in the latest development of the case.


But observers accuse the junta of attempting to keep Suu Kyi locked up to prevent her from taking part in the upcoming election in 2010. The outraged international community has called for her release.


Suu Kyi has spend 14 years in confinement since her National League for Democracy party won the general election in 1990 – a landslide victory which the junta refused to recognise.

In May, days before the end of her latest six-year long detention, an American citizen, John Yettaw, swam across a lake to her house in May. Suu Kyi said she took him in and gave him food for humanitarian reasons. But the junta accused her of trying to flee, claiming Yettaw was an agent for a foreign power.  

Suu Kyi’s lawyers have argued that she cannot be held responsible for Yettaw’s actions and that the legal framework for her initial detention is under the 1975 law that is no longer in use.


Junta surprised by the outrage

Analysts say that the junta - which has ruled the country since a 1962 military coup - is trying to maintain Suu Kyi under arrest but was surprised by the strong international outrage.
“The junta has been trapped in its own game,” said Arnaud Dubus, FRANCE 24 correspondent in Thailand. “The generals tried to use the latest episode to extend Suu Kyi’s detention, but the strong international reaction pushed them to a rough spot and they are now divided over what to do with Suu Kyi.”

“The junta’s number one leader Than Shwe, who despises Suu Kyi, is at odds with one of the other main leaders of the regime, General Maung Aye, who has good relations with her,” said Dubus.

“The decision to delay the verdict was probably taken by General Than Shwe alone,” said FRANCE 24’s special correspondent in Burma, Thierry Falise.
Suu Kyi faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Observers have widely predicted a guilty verdict but there is growing speculation that justice may bow slightly to foreign pressure.

Washington and the EU have imposed sanctions against Burma and demanded that all 2,100 political prisoners be unconditionally released.

Date created : 2009-07-31