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Burma Opens Suu Kyi Trial to Media

BURMA’S military regime suddenly opened the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to the press Wednesday and allowed diplomats to meet her in the face of worldwide outrage over the case.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has been in detention without trial for over 13 of the past 19 years, is accused of violating her house arrest after an American man stayed at her home without official permission. This is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

She is on trial with two female members of her party, who live with her, and John Yettaw, the American who swam to Suu Kyi’s lakeside home under the cover of darkness earlier this month and sneaked in uninvited. Suu Kyi, appearing alert and in good spirits, greeted diplomats and told them she hoped they could meet again “in better times”, according to two of them, who asked not to be identified.

The trial adjourned after two more police officers testified for the prosecution, including one who interviewed Suu Kyi after her arrest. He said she had told him she had provided Yettaw with several meals.

A township police officer also presented 23 items of evidence, including two black cloaks that resembled abayas, typically found in Saudi Arabia, that Yettaw allegedly left behind for Suu Kyi. Two women modelled the black garb in the courtroom.

Suu Kyi, who is being held at Rangoon’s Insein Prison alongside scores of other political prisoners, had been scheduled to be freed on May 27 after six consecutive years under house arrest.

These new charges are seen as an excuse to keep her locked up during the election next year — the culmination of the junta’s “roadmap to democracy”, which has been criticised as a fig leaf for their continued military rule.
Burma has been under military rule since 1962. It last held an election in 1990 but the junta refused to honour the results after a landslide victory by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. –– Pressandjournal.

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