Junta 'had considered' freeing Suu Kyi

May 26, 2009 (DVB), The Burmese government had considered releasing Aung San Suu Kyi tomorrow on her scheduled release date until her alleged breached of house arrest conditions earlier this month, said a senior police official today.

Speaking to reporters gathered outside the Rangoon courtroom where Suu Kyi today begins her seventh day of trials, Brigadier General Myint Thein also said that the government had the legal right to extend her detention to November this year.

"Because Aung San Suu Kyi was the daughter of state leader General Aung San, we gave deep consideration (to the issue of ending her house arrest)," he told AFP reporters this morning.

Suu Kyi was put under house arrest on 27 May, 2003, following the Depayin massacre in which a government-backed mob opened fire on a convoy of National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters, killing 70.

She was initially sentenced to five years, but last year the government extended it for a further year.

Earlier this month, a US citizen named John Yettaw swam to the lakeside compound where she is held and stayed for two nights.

Following the incident, police have charged her under the Law Safeguarding the State from the Dangers of Subversive Elements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.

"So within the existing laws, she was regretfully, inevitably charged," said Myint Thein.

Critics say the trial currently underway is a pretext to keep Suu Kyi in detention well beyond the scheduled 2010 elections.

Yesterday the prosecution abruptly dropped its nine remaining witnesses, a move which Suu Kyi's team sees as an attempt to rush through the trial.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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