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Lawyers still hope Suu Kyi will be 'freed unconditionally'

world Updated: Aug 03, 2009 10:57 IST

Lawyers for Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Sunday they still hoped she would be "freed unconditionally", despite widespread fears of a guilty verdict in her prolonged prison trial.

The Nobel peace laureate faces up to five years in jail if convicted on charges of breaching the terms of her house arrest following an incident in which an American man swam across a lake to her heavily secured villa in May.

The two-and-a-half month trial has provoked international outrage and critics have accused Myanmar's junta of using the intrusion as an excuse to keep her locked up during elections scheduled for 2010.

A verdict had been expected on Friday but judges postponed their pronouncement until August 11, saying they needed time to review the case.

"We hope that she will be freed unconditionally," said Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi's lawyers and a spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD).

"We have nothing much to do. We are just waiting for the next trial date. Tomorrow we will submit an application to the authorities to meet Aung San Suu Kyi and we hope to meet her on Wednesday or Thursday," he told AFP.

He said Suu Kyi, currently detained at Yangon's notorious Insein prison, had instructed her defence team to visit her before August 11.

Her lawyers hailed the delayed verdict, which adds to uncertainty over the junta's plans for the democracy icon, Friday as a sign that the judges have "serious legal problems".

Ahead of Friday's expected decision, UN chief Ban Ki-moon had pressed for the immediate release of Suu Kyi during a meeting with Myanmar's UN ambassador, a UN spokesman said.

Washington, which like the European Union has imposed sanctions against the Myanmar regime, also demanded Thursday that Suu Kyi and another 2,100 political prisoners in Myanmar should be "immediately and unconditionally released".

Analysts say Myanmar's rulers have showed rare concern for foreign opinion by delaying the verdict, but only because they want to minimise the fallout while pursuing a hard line against her.

The junta has kept Suu Kyi in detention for a total of nearly 14 years since refusing to recognise the NLD's landslide victory in elections in 1990.