Yettaw has 'fulfilled duty to God'

Aug 12, 2009 (DVB), The US citizen yesterday sentenced by a Burmese court to seven years in prison has told his lawyer that he has "fulfilled his duty to God".

Lawyers for John Yettaw, whose visit to Aung San Suu Kyi's compound in May triggered the court hearing which ended yesterday are set to appeal his sentence.

Yettaw was yesterday handed a guilty verdict and a sentence of seven years imprisonment with four years' hard labour.

Suu Kyi and her two caretakers were given 18 months under house arrest, commuted from three years' hard labour via an order from junta leader Senior General Than Shwe.

The lawyer for Yettaw, Khin Maung Oo, said an appeal will be submitted to the judges seeking a pardon for his client.

"I am going to submit an appeal to the divisional court, and also seek a special appeal at the central court," he said.

"Eventually we will ask the government for a pardon and to deport him instead."

The bizarre incident in which Yettaw, a 54-year-old Vietnam War veteran, swam to Suu Kyi's compound in May and stayed for two nights has attracted widespread attention, not least because it has been used as a ploy by Burma's ruling junta to keep Suu Kyi in detention beyond next year's elections.

The junta variously pinned the blame on opposition groups and hostile foreign governments, but Yettaw claims he "had a vision from God" requiring him to save Suu Kyi form assassination.

"[Yettaw] told me to do what I have to do and that he had fulfilled his duty for God," said Khin Maung Oo.

Yettaw was sentenced on three separate charges, under the Municipal Act for swimming in the lake, a three year term under the Immigration Act and three more years for assisting Suu Kyi breaching her house arrest condition.

He will serve his sentences separately, according to Khin Maung Oo.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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