Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi - guilty as framed

A Burmese court found democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of violating an internal security law and she was given another 18 months of house arrest.

The court at Rangoon's Insein prison initially sentenced the Nobel Peace Laureate to three years in prison with hard labor but that was immediately reduced to two and a half years of house arrest on the orders of Burma's ruling General Than Shwe.

Aung San Suu Kyi had been on trial for violating the terms of her house arrest in May, when she allowed an American intruder who swam to her lakeside home to stay at the house overnight.

The American man, John Yettaw, was also on trial and was sentenced to seven years in prison with hard labor.

The verdicts were delivered after co-defendant, Yettaw, was taken back to prison after a week in the hospital. Before his return to prison, the day's proceedings were in doubt, because Burmese courts do not generally make rulings in the absence of the accused.

The verdict had been scheduled for last Friday, but judges said they needed more time to sort through legal issues, and it was rescheduled for Tuesday. Analysts at the time said the delay was likely the result of Myanmar's military government being uncertain how to handle the case in the face of mounting international pressure.

Yettaw swam uninvited to Aung San Suu Kyi's lakeside Rangoon home in early May, and stayed there for two days with her permission.

Ahead of Tuesday's verdict security was stepped up across Yangon and police trucks patrolled the streets overnight, witnesses said.

The move follows warnings in the country's state media against any protests in case of a guilty verdict.

The case has drawn a storm of international criticis m of Myanmar's military government, which is already targeted by US and European Union sanctions for its detention of more than 2,000 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

Published by Mike Hitchen,
Putting principles before profits