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'Aung San Suu Kyi to appeal verdict'

An attorney for Myanmar opposition leader said today that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate plans to appeal the guilty verdict that placed her under house detention for another 18 months, outraging the international community.

world Updated: Aug 12, 2009 11:14 IST
DPA

An attorney for Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Wednesday that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate plans to appeal the guilty verdict that placed her under house detention for another 18 months, outraging the international community.

"I will try to get a certified copy of the verdict, and after I've got it, we will appeal to the Divisional Court for Daw (Mrs) Aung San Suu Kyi to overturn the guilty verdict," lawyer Nyan Win said.

Meanwhile, authorities arrested pro-democracy activist Naw Ohn Hla as she attempted to visit Suu Kyi at Suu Kyi's Yangon home, now her prison again, witnesses said.

On Tuesday, a court set up in Yangon's Insein Prison to try Suu Kyi, her two household helpers and US national John William Yettaw found all four defendants guilty of violating the terms of Suu Kyi's previous detention at her lakeside home.

Yettaw swam to Suu Kyi's house-cum-prison May 3, staying uninvited until May 5 and providing a pretext for Myanmar's military regime to accuse Suu Kyi of violating the terms of her detention.

Yettaw, 54, has been sentenced to seven years in prison with hard labour.

The Insein Prison court initially sentenced Suu Kyi, whose previous term of house detention had been due to expire in May, and her aides to three years in prison with hard labour, but the verdict was commuted to 18 months under house detention by Myanmar's military supremo, Senior General Than Shwe.

The 18-month detention period will keep Suu Kyi out of the political picture while the regime, which has been internationally condemned for a range of human rights abuses, pushes through its plans to stage a general election some time next year, which promises to be neither free not fair.

Suu Kyi's ongoing house detention meant that it was unlikely that her National League for Democracy opposition party, which won the last polls in 1990 but has been denied power for the past 19 years, would participate in next year's election.

It also dashed hopes that prior to the polls, the regime might open a dialogue with the democracy icon, whom it has detained for 14 of the past 20 years, and consider amending the 2008 constitution, which essentially cements the military's control over any democratically elected government.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy activists have sent a letter to US Senator Jim Webb, chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs, urging him to not allow the junta to manipulate his planned visit to Myanmar later this week.

"We are concerned that the military regime will manipulate and exploit your visit and propagandise that you endorse the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the imprisonment of over 2,100 political prisoners, their human rights abuses on the people of Burma and their systematic, widespread and ongoing atrocities against the ethnic minorities," said the joint statement sent to the US embassy in Yangon by the All Burma Monks Alliance, 88 Generation Students and All Burma Federation of Student Unions.

Webb, a proponent of change in the US foreign policy toward Myanmar, was expected to appeal for a swift release of Yettaw during his visit.