Suu Kyi says junta's charges are political: lawyer

 @ibtimes
on June 11 2009 10:53 AM

YANGON – Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi believes her trial is an attempt by the country's ruling generals to prevent her from running in multi-party elections next year, her lawyer said.

Suu Kyi, who faces up to five years prison if found guilty of violating her house arrest, was allowed on Thursday to appeal a ban on two defense witnesses after urging her lawyers to explore all legal avenues to win the case.

Nyan Win, one of her lawyers, said the Supreme Court accepted their challenge of the ban on Win Tin, a senior member of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party, and its detained vice-chairman, Tin Oo.

A lower court had agreed on Tuesday to allow only one more witness, legal expert Khin Moe Moe, to testify.

The Supreme Court scheduled the appeal for July 17, but an official later called Nyan Win to say it had been adjourned.

It's completely unprecedented. Adjournments are normally made at the court. It is not made by informing lawyers at their residence or office, he said.

The Nobel laureate's next court appearance is on for Friday, although her lawyers expect the case to be adjourned again.

The initial barring of the three defense witnesses outraged Suu Kyi's supporters, who accuse the junta of sabotaging her defense.

The wife of one of her defense lawyers was sacked by her employer without explanation on Thursday, in what Nyan Win said was a bid by the regime to intimidate Suu Kyi's defense team.

Prominent activist lawyer Aung Thein had his license revoked before the trial began on May 18, with no reason given.

A conviction is widely expected in the former Burma, where the courts have often bent the law to suit the military, which has ruled for nearly half a century.

POLITICALLY MOTIVATED

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told us the trial and the charges against her were politically motivated, Nyan Win said late on Wednesday after defense lawyers were allowed to meet Suu Kyi at her prison guesthouse.

She instructed us to explore all legal avenues to take appropriate legal action, he said.

Suu Kyi is charged under Section 22 of an internal security law to protect the state from subversive elements after American John Yettaw swam across the Inya lake to her home on May 4, where he stayed for two days.

Yettaw told the court he was sent by God to protect Suu Kyi from terrorists seeking to kill her. He and two of Suu Kyi's housemaids are also charged under the security law.

The pro-democracy icon has been detained for more 13 years since her first house arrest in July 1989. Her last stint of house arrest was lifted on May 26, but she is being held at Insein prison while her trial continues.

Western governments and Myanmar's regional neighbors have expressed outrage at the trial, which critics say is aimed at keeping the charismatic National League for Democracy (NLD) leader out of elections next year.

Nyan Win said Suu Kyi was especially irked by the junta's refusal to allow her to have her house cleaned during the trial.

She thinks that the authorities are having nothing to do with her house since her house arrest has been officially lifted, Nyan Win added. She cannot accept it.

(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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