Suu Kyi appeal rejected by court

Oct 2, 2009 (DVB), A court in Burma has rejected an appeal by Aung San Suu Kyi against her house arrest, with the opposition leader likely to remain in detention beyond the 2010 elections.

Lawyers for Suu Kyi, who today confirmed the rejection, had argued that the law under which she was charged was no longer valid.

"But there was a strange thing," said lawyer Nyan Win. "The court agreed with a point we made, that the 1974 constitution does not exist anymore."

However, according to Nyan Win, the court said that Suu Kyi had been charged under the 1975 State Protection law, and thus ruled to uphold the guilty verdict.

Lawyers are set to take the appeal to the central court. The three-month long trial, and subsequent hearings, had been held in a closed court inside Rangoon's Insein prison.

"Now that a government court has admitted the 1974 constitution law no longer exists, this would give us a chance to argue more widely from the legal point of view in the next hearing," Nyan Win said.

"We can say it was a victory for us under some legal norms as the court agreed with us that the 1974 constitution is no longer in place."

Critics of Burma's ruling junta have argued that the sentencing was a ploy to keep her in detention beyond the 2010 elections, scheduled for March next year.

The 11-point appeal further claimed that the conditions of her house arrest this round were stricter than previous years.

Suu Kyi had earlier been barred from attending the appeal. Lawyers said that reasons for the denial were unclear.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader was sentenced in August to 18 months under house arrest, commuted from three years with hard labour.

The detention was triggered by the visit of US citizen John Yettaw to Suu Kyi's Rangoon compound in May. Yettaw was originally given seven years with hard labour, but was released following a visit to Burma by US senator Jim Webb.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years. Her last spell in detention was due to expire only weeks after Yettaw visited.

Reporting by Naw Say Paw

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