Myanmar court considers more witnesses in Suu Kyi case

June 17th, 2009 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Yangon, June 17 (DPA) Myanmar’s Supreme Court Wednesday accepted an appeal by lawyers acting for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to consider allowing two more witnesses at her trial for breaking the terms of her detention.
“They have accepted our appeal but we still need to wait for a hearing date,” Nyan Win, one of the Suu Kyi’s lawyers said.

Suu Kyi’s defence lawyers have fought to overturn a ruling by the Insein Prison court that rejected three out of four of their witnesses in Suu Kyi’s case, while allowing 14 for the prosecution.

Suu Kyi, her two household helpers and US national John William Yettaw have been accused of breaking the terms of her detention by allowing the American to swim to her Yangon lakeside home-cum-prison May 3 and stay there until swimming away May 5.

The Yangon Division Court June 9 partly reversed the Insein Prison decision, allowing attorney Khin Moh Moh to appear as a witness, but barred the defence from calling senior National League for Democracy (NLD) members Tin Oo and Win Tin as witnesses.

But Suu Kyi’s lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court to allow Tin Oo and Win Tin appear as witnesses. “We expect the high court will accept at least one of our witnesses, probably Win Tin,” Nyan Win said.

Tin Oo, who is currently under house arrest, is vice chairman of NLD, which is led by Suu Kyi.

Win Tin is a central executive member of the NLD and a veteran journalist. Both men have spent much of the past 19 years in jail.

Suu Kyi was held under house arrest for six years before being transferred to Insein Prison May 9 to stand trial for breaking the terms of that detention.

The court case against Suu Kyi is scheduled to resume June 26 to hear the testimony of defence witness Khin Moh Moh.

Myanmar’s judiciary has little or no independence from the country’s ruling military junta, observers note. The country has been under military rule since 1962.

Suu Kyi’s trial began May 11. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has spent 13 of the past 19 years in detention.

Yettaw, a Mormon who claims to have wanted to warn Suu Kyi of an assassination attempt he had dreamt of, faces several charges, including immigration violations for visiting a prisoner while on a tourist visa and local laws for swimming illegally in Inya Lake.

The junta’s critics have accused it of using the case as a pretext to keep Suu Kyi in jail during a politically sensitive period leading up to a general election planned for next year.

The NLD won the 1990 general election by a landslide but has been blocked from power by Myanmar’s junta for the past 19 years.

The new trial of Suu Kyi, whose most recent six-year house detention expired May 27, has sparked a chorus of protests from world leaders and even statements of concern from its regional allies in the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

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