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Curbs on Suu Kyi trial reimposed
Pro-democracy leader's supporters mark anniversary of election win as court resumes.
Last Modified: 27 May 2009 12:30 GMT

Aung San Suu Kyi's trial has sparked unprecedented criticism from Asian governments [AFP]

Restrictions on access to the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader, have been reimposed.

The trial entered its eighth day on Wednesday behind closed doors after a brief relaxation a day earlier that allowed journalists to hear the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader enter a not guilty plea.

Wednesday's hearing comes on the anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi's election win - the 1990 landslide victory that was overruled by the country's military. 

About 300 people held a ceremony at party headquarters in Yangon, the former capital, to release doves and balloons to mark the day.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who is charged with violating the terms of her detention, has spent 13 of the past 19 years under arrest.

The detention order was due to expire on Wednesday, but Aung San Suu Kyi is being held in prison until the court reaches a verdict.

Her trial, inside the Insein prison, has been damned by Asian and Western leaders, including Barack Obama, the US president.

The charges agains the 63-year-old Nobel laureate stem from an incident earlier this month when an American man swam to her home and stayed there for two days.

She faces up to five years in jail and has repeatedly pleaded her innocence.

Lawyers expect the verdict could come as early as Friday.

Election anniversary

John Yettaw, a Vietnam war veteran from Missouri who swam to Aung San Suu Kyi's lakeside house, is also expected to testify on Wednesday.

In depth


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 Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi

The 53-year-old Missouri resident is charged with immigration violations, illegal swimming and breaking a security law that protects the state from "subversive elements".

Yettaw, who used homemade flippers to swim across Inya Lake to Aung San Suu Kyi's home, was arrested as he swam away.

He later said he had dreamt that Aung San Suu Kyi was going to be assassinated and was trying to warn her.

Her two female assistants, Daw Khin Khin Win and Ma Win Ma Ma, who are charged under the same security law, will also testify on Wednesday.

On the first day of her testimony Aung San Suu Kyi told the court that she had no prior knowledge of Yettaw's plans, but admitted she did not alert the authorities after he arrived on May 4.

'Security failure'

In a statement released by her party on Wednesday, she blamed security lapses for the May 4 incident, saying she could not be held responsible for the break-in by Yettaw.

"No action was taken regarding security but it was me who was charged"

Aung San Suu Kyi, detained pro-democracy leader

The statement carried a fuller account than her brief answers to questions from judges when she took the stand for the first time on Tuesday.

Aung San Suu Kyi noted that when Yettaw first attempted to visit her house in November 2008, she reported the incident through her personal doctor but no action was taken.

"The basic reason for this case is a security failure or security breakdown," she said in the statement. "No action was taken regarding security but it was me who was charged."

She said when Yettaw visited her residence again early this month, she asked him to go back but he was afraid of being arrested in the morning and told her he would go back that night.

"But at night he asked to stay because of his health situation," the statement said.

"Because of my political beliefs I do not want anyone to be under arrest, that's why I allowed him temporary shelter."

International outcry

Barack Obama criticised Myanmar for conducting a 'sham trial' [EPA]
The trial, which is expected to culminate in a guilty verdict, has continued despite international outcry, including unprecedented criticism from Asian governments.

Obama on Tuesday said that Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention, isolation and "show trial based on spurious charges" cast serious doubt on the Myanmar government's willingness to be a responsible member of the international community.

Asian and European ministers attending the Asia-Europe Meeting in Vietnam, urged Myanmar to release Aung San Suu Kyi, lift restrictions on political parties, and prepare for free, fair and multi-party elections in 2010.

Some diplomats applauded China, one of Myanmar's biggest backers, for adopting what they described as a fresh, more critical tone when the matter was debated at the Hanoi meeting.

Myanmar's neighbour Thailand has said it has "grave concerns" about the trial.

The ruling generals are pressing ahead with a "roadmap to democracy" that will culminate in 2010 elections, but critics call it a sham aimed at entrenching military power.

Source:
Agencies
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