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BURMA

Court hears closing arguments in Suu Kyi trial

Text by: NEWS WIRES
3 min

A Burmese court has heard final arguments in the case against opposition leader and democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who is charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest and faces five years in prison if found guilty.

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REUTERS - A court in army-ruled Myanmar heard final arguments on Monday in a case involving opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who faces five years in prison if found guilty of breaching a draconian security law.

 

Lawyers read closing arguments for the other defendants, two of Suu Kyi's housemaids and John Yettaw, an American intruder whose two-night stay at Suu Kyi's home in May could land all four defendants in jail.

 

The prosecution may wrap up its case against Suu Kyi later on Monday, court officials said.

 

However, Suu Kyi's lawyer, Nyan Win, told Reuters he did not believe a verdict was imminent.

 

"I expect all the arguments will be made today but I think the verdict might take as long as two or three weeks," he said.

 

A guilty verdict is widely expected in a country where courts are known to rule in favour of the army, which has governed the former Burma for nearly 50 years.

 

The trial began in May and has been held mostly behind closed doors, although several European diplomats were allowed to attend Friday's proceedings, when lawyers for Suu Kyi concluded their defence statements.

 

The case has been dismissed as a show trial by critics, and the international community has repeatedly called for the charges to be dropped and for Suu Kyi, 64, to be freed.

 

She is charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest by allowing Yettaw to stay at her home, but her legal team argue that the law she is charged under is obsolete.

 

Yettaw told the court last month that he wanted to warn Suu Kyi she would be assassinated by "terrorists". Suu Kyi has blamed the authorities for the security lapse.

 

At an Asia-Pacific security forum in Thailand on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered Myanmar the prospect of better relations with the United States but said that depended in part on the fate of Suu Kyi.

 

The junta has given no indication it will accept the offer and a commentary published in three state-controlled newspapers on Sunday accused Clinton of interfering in regional affairs and seeking to assert U.S. power over Southeast Asia.

 

Lawyer Nyan Win said on Friday it was unlikely Clinton's calls for reform would be heeded, adding that the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader was "preparing for the worst".

 

Suu Kyi has been in detention for 14 of the past 20 years, mostly under house arrest.

 

The NLD won Myanmar's last general election in 1990 by a landslide but the generals ignored the result. Critics have expressed concern that next year's polls will be rigged to further entrench army rule.

 

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