Spokesman: Trial Imminent For Myanmar's Suu Kyi

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be put on trial Thursday in connection with the intrusion of an American who sneaked uninvited into her compound, a spokesman for her party said.

Nyan Win said he was informed of the plan to try Suu Kyi and two women who live with her by her lawyer, Kyi Win.

The lawyer said the three will be taken early Thursday morning to Yangon's Insein Prison but he was not told what charges they faced.

An American man, John William Yettaw, was arrested last week for allegedly swimming a lake to secretly enter Suu Kyi's home and stay there for two days.

Nyan Win said the authorities would pick the three women up from Suu Kyi's lakeside home at 7:00 a.m. Thursday (2330 GMT Wednesday) to appear before the court. Suu Kyi's two helpers are Khin Khin Win, 65 and her daughter Win Ma Ma, 41, who have lived with her since she was last detained in 2003.

He added that it was possible that Suu Kyi may not immediately be returned to her house as arrangements have been made to take care of it in the absence of the women, who are the only ones who live there under the conditions of her house arrest.

When a person is put on trial, he or she is normally held in a police lockup for up to 14 days, but in special cases the defendant is held at Insein Prison, which is in a northern part of the country's biggest city.

Last week's intrusion by Yettaw had raised fears that the Nobel Peace laureate may have been ensnared in activities that could put her in further legal trouble.

One of many strict rules the junta imposes on citizens is that they must notify local officials about any overnight visitor who is not a family member. The law also states that foreigners are not allowed to spend the night at a local's home.

Some members of Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, have been jailed for about two weeks for violating that law.

Suu Kyi has already spent more than 13 of the last 19 years - including the past six - in detention without trial for her nonviolent promotion of democracy, despite international pressure for her release.

She has recently been ill, suffering from dehydration and low blood pressure. Her doctor was allowed to see her on Monday afternoon, and Nyan Win had said Tuesday that her condition had improved after the doctor administered an IV drip.

According to the U.S. Campaign for Burma, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group opposed to military rule in Myanmar, Suu Kyi and her two live-in helpers were to be tried together with Suu Kyi's personal doctor, Tin Myo Win, and Yettaw, starting at 7:30 a.m. (0000 GMT) in a special court in the prison compound.

The doctor was arrested without explanation last week, a day after Yettaw was taken into custody.

In an e-mailed statement, it said they would they would be officially charged with violating Emergency Provision Act, Section 5 (J), a catchall law on public order and security often used against political dissidents. It carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment or a fine or both.

The lobbying group did not say where it got its information.

"This is the cunning plan of the regime to put Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in continuous detention beyond the six years allowed by the law they used to justify the detention of her," the group said. "This also shows total defiance of the regime to the United Nations and the international community who have been consistently and repeatedly calling for the regime to release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi." 'Daw' is a term of respect used for older women.

Myanmar authorities on Wednesday allowed a U.S. diplomat to visit Yettaw for the first time since he was arrested.

Myanmar state television showed a still photo of Yettaw meeting with consular chief Colin Furst. A U.S. diplomat confirmed the meeting, saying it lasted 30 minutes and that Yettaw appeared to be in good spirits and said he had been treated well.

The diplomat, who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said that Yettaw had not at that time been formally charged with any crime. He did not elaborate, calling the issue sensitive.

Wednesday's TV report said the meeting took place at the Aung Tha-byay police station in Yangon, which in the past has been used for detention and interrogation of suspected political dissidents.

Myanmar's state-run newspapers reported last week that Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Missouri, swam on the night of May 3 to the lakeside home of the 63-year-old Suu Kyi and left the same way by a longer 1¼-mile (2-kilometer) route on the night of May 5, before being arrested the next morning.

The report said his motive was under investigation.

There are no known previous cases of anyone sneaking into Suu Kyi's home, though a well-informed account earlier this week on a pro-government Web site said Yettaw admitted to making a similar secret visit late last year.

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