BURMA

Court rejects Suu Kyi’s appeal against extended house arrest

A Burmese court has rejected opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal against her extended house arrest following her August conviction over a bizarre incident in which an American man swam to her house uninvited.

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AFP - Judges rejected an appeal by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi Friday against her extended house arrest, lawyers and officials said.

A divisional court in Yangon upheld the Nobel Laureate's conviction, delivered in August, over a bizarre incident in which an American man swam uninvited to her home, earning her an extra 18 months in detention.

"The appeal was rejected but we will take it to the high court," said Suu Kyi's lawyer and the spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, Nyan Win, after the hearing.

A Myanmar official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also told AFP that the appeal was unsuccessful but did not give further details.

In August a court at Yangon's notorious Insein prison originally sentenced the frail 64-year-old to three years' hard labour but junta chief Than Shwe reduced that to 18 months' house arrest.

Two female assistants living with Suu Kyi received the same sentence and also had appeals against their rulings rejected Friday.

John Yettaw, the eccentric American who triggered the debacle by swimming to her lakeside mansion in May, was sentenced to seven years' hard labour, but the regime freed him following a visit by US Senator Jim Webb.

Military-ruled Myanmar has faced intense international pressure to free Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years and was not present at Friday's hearing.

The United States pressed for her release when it held the highest-level talks with Myanmar in nearly ten years on Wednesday.

Suu Kyi's extended house arrest now keeps her off the scene for elections promised by the regime for 2010, adding to widespread criticism that the polls are a sham designed to legitimise the junta's grip on power.

The NLD won the country's last elections in 1990 by a landslide, which the ruling generals refused to acknowledge.

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