Suu Kyi 'preparing for the worst'

Myanmar opposition leader braces for lengthy jail term when verdict is delivered.

    World outrage appears not to have blunted the army's determination to jail Aung San Suu Kyi [Reuters]

    Myanmar's military government has warned Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters not to take to the streets following the verdict.

    The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said that authorities and citizens alike "have to ward off subversive elements and disruptions".

    The leader of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party who has spent nearly 14 of the last 20 years in prison or under house arrest, could be jailed for another five years if found guilty.

    'Obvious' verdict

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    On Tuesday, the opposition leader had said she expected the verdict to be "painfully obvious", according to diplomats allowed into the courtroom when closing arguments were made.

    The diplomats said she thanked them "for trying to promote a just outcome" but said she was not optimistic.

    The trial has been held largely behind closed doors, although diplomats and a handful of reporters have occasionally been allowed access.

    The American intruder, John Yettaw, is also on trial, as are two female aides who have been the opposition leader's only companions during her house arrest.

    The opposition leader's lawyers - who have not contested the facts of the case - have consistently argued that the law used by the authorities is invalid because it applies to a constitution abolished two decades ago.

    They also say that government guards stationed outside her home should be held responsible for any intrusion into her property.

    Still, Aung San Suu Kyi is widely expected to be convicted in a country where courts are known to rule in favour of the military which has ruled since 1962.

    And the ruling generals are not likely to tolerate any public opposition to the court's decision.

    Protesters can be jailed for seven years, and while some have taken the risk outside the gates of Insein prison where she is held, the bloody crackdown on anti-government protests led by monks in 2007 are still fresh in many people's minds.

    Critics have said the trial is a sham based on charges trumped up by the military in order to keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year.

    But neither international outrage nor offers of closer ties with the US if she is freed appear to have been able to deflect the military rulers' apparent determination to neutralise, if not jail, her.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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