Suu Kyi braces for the worst ahead of verdict | world | Hindustan Times
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Suu Kyi braces for the worst ahead of verdict

world Updated: Jul 30, 2009 12:05 IST

Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was bracing for the worst ahead of Friday's verdict in her high-profile trial, gathering medicine and books to prepare for a feared prison term, her lawyer said.

The frail 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was "physically and mentally fine, and very alert," Nyan Win, one of her lawyers, said Thursday.

"She is getting ready for any result," he said. "She is preparing for the worst."

Suu Kyi is charged with violating the terms of her long house arrest when an American intruder swam across a lake and spent two nights at her home in early May. She faces a minimum of three years and maximum of five years in prison.

Suu Kyi's trial in a court at Myanmar's Insein Prison has drawn international condemnation since it opened May 18. She is widely expected to be convicted, although there has been speculation she may stay under house arrest rather than serve time in jail.

Suu Kyi has been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, since leading a pro-democracy uprising that was crushed by Myanmar's military junta.

Ahead of the verdict, Suu Kyi provided her lawyers with a list of requested items, which they were able to bring her, Nyan Win said. "She is collecting some medicine and many books in English, French and Burmese," he said.

An Oxford-graduate who lived in India and Britain, Suu Kyi requested French history books, John Le Carre novels and Winston Churchill biographies, among others, in addition to Burmese-language books on Buddhism, he said.

"If she is convicted, she said she has only one thing to do and that is reading," Nyan Win said.

A verdict will also be given Friday for the uninvited American visitor, John Yettaw, whose intrusion into Suu Kyi's lakeside home was the cause of the trial.

The 53-year-old Yettaw was also charged with violating terms of Suu Kyi's house arrest, as an abettor and could be sent to prison for five years. He also faces a municipal charge of swimming in a non-swimming area and is accused of immigration violations. Yettaw, a devout Mormon from Missouri, testified that he swam to Suu Kyi's house to deliver a warning that he had had a "vision" she would be assassinated.

Two women who lived with Suu Kyi are also on trial on charges similar to those brought against her. Suu Kyi's lawyers have not contested the basic facts of the case but argued that the law used by authorities against her is invalid because it applies to a constitution abolished two decades ago. They also say that government security guards stationed outside Suu Kyi's compound should be held responsible for any intrusion. Suu Kyi told the court during her trial that she asked Yettaw to leave but relented when he said he was too tired and ill to immediately swim back across the lake. Her lawyers have indicated they will appeal any conviction.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he hopes the government will respond to his repeated appeals to free Suu Kyi.

If she is sent to prison, Ban said that the junta will have missed the opportunity to "engage with the international community" and will betray their expectations to see Suu Kyi freed. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama renewed sanctions against the junta, including a ban on imports of jade and other gems from Myanmar.

But neither outside pressure nor the possibility of closer ties with the West has deterred the ruling junta, which appeared determined to find her guilty and keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year.

Suu Kyi emerged as a democracy icon during a popular uprising in 1988 that the military, which has ruled since 1962 brutally, suppressed. Her party won national elections in 1990, but Myanmar's generals refused to relinquish power.