Aung San Suu Kyi put on trial (Second Lead)

May 14th, 2009 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Yangon, May 14 (DPA) Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was put on trial Thursday on charges of allowing a US national to visit her home, where she has been under detention for the past six years.
Suu Kyi, 63, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, stood trial at Yangon’s Insein Prison for a case involving herself, her maid, her doctor and US national John William Yethaw, who swam to her house on Inya Lake last week and spent three nights there before swimming away and being arrested.

After an initial hearing, the trial was scheduled to be continued May 18, Suu Kyi’s attorney Kyi Win said.

The Nobel laureate was taken from her family compound Thursday and kept at Insein Prison after the hearing.

If found guilty, Suu Kyi could face a sentence of three to five years in jail for allowing the unauthorised visit, he said.

Suu Kyi’s current sentence was due to expire May 27.

Myanmar’s ruling military junta has scheduled a general election next year, and it is deemed unlikely that it would want Suu Kyi to be free during the polls.

Suu Kyi heads the National League for Democracy, which won the 1990 polls by a landslide but has been denied power by the military for the past 19 years.

“This is the cunning plan of the regime to put Daw (Mrs) Aung San Suu Kyi in continuous detention beyond the six years allowed by the law they used to justify (her) detention,” said Aung Din, executive director of the US Campaign for Burma.

Yethaw, 53, was arrested May 6 while swimming away from Suu Kyi’s house.

Suu Kyi, known to be in poor health, has been kept in near-isolation for the past six years with only weekly visits by her doctors allowed and occasional visits by UN special envoys.

Only her two domestic helpers have permission to stay in the house.

Suu Kyi, the only Nobel Peace Prize laureate currently under detention, was interrogated last week about Yethaw’s visit.

She reportedly told authorities that she deemed the visit “illegal” and “unacceptable” and had kept Yethaw downstairs in her home-cum-jail for the entire time, sources said.

Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San, an independence hero who was assassinated in 1948. The former expatriate returned to Myanmar in 1988 to tend to her ailing mother and got caught up in the country’s pro-democracy movement, of which she quickly became a leading figure.

She has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest. There are more than 2,500 political prisoners in Myanmar jails.

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