Suu Kyi trial nears end in Myanmar

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been held in confinement for 13 of the past 19 years.
The trial in Myanmar of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi drew closer to an end Friday with testimony from the last witness and the scheduling of closing arguments.

After completing a seven-hour examination of Suu Kyi’s final defense witness, the court announced that closing arguments will be heard July 24. Nyan Win, Suu Kyi’s lawyer, said the legal team has finished drafting arguments, which totaled 18 pages. Suu Kyi reviewed them and added four more pages, he said. The verdict will come sometime after July 24, Nyan Win said, because by law the court cannot announce the verdict on the same day as closing arguments. Suu Kyi — the face of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement — is on trial on allegations of subversion. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and two of her maids have been charged in a May 3 incident in which an American, John William Yettaw, 53, swam across a lake to her house and stayed for at least a night.

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Suu Kyi, 64, is accused of violating her house arrest by offering temporary shelter to Yettaw. But she has said she doesn’t know Yettaw, didn’t know of his plans, and didn’t do anything wrong. Myanmar’s military regime has heldSuu Kyi under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years and rarely allows her visitors. It recently denied U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s request to see her. If convicted, Suu Kyi could be sentenced to three to five years in prison. The trial is taking place near Yangon at Insean Prison, where Suu Kyi has been held since May.

Her supporters say the arrest is meant to keep her confined so she cannot participate in the general elections that the junta has scheduled for next year. Suu Kyi was put under house arrest in 1989. The following year, the National League for Democracy won more than 80 percent of the legislative seats in the first free elections in the country in nearly 30 years. But the military junta disqualified Suu Kyi from serving because of her house arrest, refused to step down and annulled the election results.