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Myanmar's Suu Kyi appeals conviction

world Updated: Sep 18, 2009 11:05 IST

Lawyers for detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said they have a solid legal argument for their appeal today against her recent conviction that extended her house arrest and drew global outrage.

Suu Kyi and reporters were barred from attending the appeal at the Yangon Divisional Court, which was expected to last one day, with a verdict delivered at a later date.

Separately, the junta hastily granted amnesty to thousands of other prisoners expected to be freed today. A mass release had been anticipated for months but the timing appeared to be partially aimed at distracting attention from Suu Kyi's hearing.

The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was convicted on August 11 for breaking the terms of her house arrest when an American intruder stayed at her home. A three-year sentence was commuted to 18 months of house arrest by the junta chief, Senior Gen. Than Shwe. Two of Suu Kyi's live-in companions received the same sentence.

"We are optimistic that Daw Suu and her two companions will be released because we based our appeal on sound legal points," lawyer Nyan Win said before the hearing started. "Daw" is a term of respect in Myanmar.

Lawyers say the main point of Suu Kyi's appeal is that the law authorities used against her is invalid because it applies to a constitution abolished two decades ago.

Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years, mostly under house arrest.