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Obama backs calls for Suu Kyi release

May 27, 2009 (DVB), United States' President Barack Obama has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and has criticized the ongoing court hearing as a "show trial based on spurious charges".

In his first statement on the trial of the opposition leader, now in its eighth day, Obama echoed international outcry over the arbitrariness of the charges she faces.

Many critics of the trial, including members of Suu Kyi's legal team, have said that the verdict is likely a foregone conclusion. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to five years.

In a statement released by the White House yesterday, Obama said that her continued trial and detention "cast serious doubt on the Burmese regime's willingness to be a responsible member of the international community".

Obama also praised Suu Kyi for her "profound patriotism, sacrifice, and the vision of a democratic and prosperous Burma".

Today is the six-year anniversary of the beginning of her current internment.

She 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.

This morning the Burmese government officially ended her detention, although given the probability of being found guilty of the charges related to US citizen John Yettaw's stay at her compound, the announcement will stand for little.

Suu Kyi pleaded 'not guilty' yesterday as she testified in front of Rangoon's Insein prison courtroom for the first time in this trial.

On Monday, the prosecution team abruptly dropped its nine remaining witnesses. Suu Kyi's legal team believe it to be a means with which to rush through the trial.

Reporting by Francis Wade


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