Court agrees to hear Suu Kyi appeal

Dec 4, 2009 (AFP), Military-ruled Burma’s supreme court has agreed to hear an appeal against the extended house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, an official said Friday.

The Nobel laureate, 64, was ordered to spend another 18 months in detention in August after being convicted over an incident in which a US man swam to her lakeside house. A lower court rejected an initial appeal in October.

"The supreme court decided to hear Aung San Suu Kyi’s request. Lawyers have to present arguments before the court on December 21," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The decision had been posted on the noticeboard of the court in the former capital Rangoon on Friday, the official added.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), confirmed that the top court had agreed to hear the appeal but said he had no further details.

Burma’s ruling junta has kept Suu Kyi in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, ever since the iron-fisted generals refused to recognise the NLD’s landslide victory in the country’s last democratic elections in 1990.

The extension of her house arrest after a trial at Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison sparked international outrage as it effectively keeps her off the stage for elections promised by the regime some time in 2010.

But in recent months there have been signs of rapprochement between Suu Kyi and the junta, while the United States is now promoting engagement with the regime because sanctions on their own have failed to bear fruit.

Suu Kyi wrote a letter to reclusive regime leader Than Shwe at the end of September offering her cooperation in getting Western sanctions lifted, after years of favouring harsh measures.

She also had two meetings with Aung Kyi, the labour minister and official liaison between her and the junta, the first such talks since January 2008, and met western diplomats in Rangoon.

In November the regime allowed her to appear in front of the media after holding talks with US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the highest level official from Washington to visit Burma for 14 years.

A visit by a US senator Jim Webb in August secured the release of John Yettaw, the eccentric American man who swam across a lake to Suu Kyi’s mansion in May and sparked the case that led to her detention being prolonged.

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