Sunday, May 17, 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi's doctor released before trial

Yangon (M&C)- Myanmar's junta has released the personal doctor of Aung San Suu Kyi, who goes to trial Monday on charges of breaking her rules of detention by allowing a US national to swim to her house on Inya Lake.

Doctor Tin Myo Win, one of the few people allowed to visit Suu Kyi during the past six years of house arrest at her Yangon family compound, was released after being held for questioning for 10 days, relatives of the doctor told the German Press Agency dpa Sunday.

Tin Myo Win was detained on May 7, apparently for interrogation about the visit of John William Yettaw, a 53-year-old Vietnam War veteran who swam to Suu Kyi's compound on May 3. He stayed there until May 6, when he swam away and was arrested.

Suu Kyi was taken to Insein Prison on Thursday and charged with abetting the unlawful visit by Yettaw, a member of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Mormon Christian sect, who reportedly wanted to pray with the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party.

His visit was a prayer answered for Myanmar's ruling military regime, which has been under pressure to release Suu Kyi, 63, on May 27, when her six-year jail term will reach its statutory limit.

It is widely expected that the court on Monday will find Suu Kyi guilty of breaking the terms of her house arrest. If found guilty, she faces a minimum of three years in jail to a maximum of five, which would keep her out of politics while the junta stages a general election planned next year.

Suu Kyi's NLD won the 1990 general election by a landslide, but have been blocked from taking power by the military for the past 19 years. Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel peace prize, has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest.

If found guilty of the latest charges, she is likely to be kept at a special guest house in Insein Prison.

Suu Kyi will plead innocent to the charge, her lawyer said.

'Daw (Mrs) Aung San Suu Kyi did not invite Mr Yettaw to come and she told him to go back,' Suu Kyi's lawyer Kyi Win said after meeting with her on Saturday. 'That is why I did not break Section 22 (of the national security act) and there was no need to inform government about Yettaw's coming.'

According to police charges against Suu Kyi and her two servants, who will also face charges on Monday, Yettaw had previously swum to Suu Kyi compound on November 30, 2008, when he left behind the 'Book of Mormon.'

Suu Kyi informed authorities of the 2008 intrusion but her complaint was never acknowledged, opposition sources said.

Pro-democracy activists accuse the junta of using Yettaw as a 'scapegoat,' since they seemingly allowed him to reenter the country on a tourist visa this month and let him swim once again to Suu Kyi's house.

Suu Kyi's trial and pending sentence have ignited widespread protests from the world community, including US President Barack Obama, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the European Union and even Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

More leaders from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, are expected to condemn Suu Kyi's continued detention if she is found guilty on Monday, Kraisak Choonhavan, deputy leader of the ruling Democrat Party in neighbouring Thailand, said.

'We call for further action by ASEAN,' Kraisak said.

ASEAN has long been criticized for first accepting Myanmar, also called Burma, in to its fold in 1997, and for thereafter being reluctant to publicly criticize or take action against the regime.

'ASEAN has the despicable, even odious, rule that we cannot punish any of our members no matter what wrongs they do,' said Kraisak, who leads the ASEAN Myanmar Causus.

He warned that the association would become increasing irrelevant if it does nothing to assist Suu Kyi.

'ASEAN will increasingly become not only criticized but almost irrelevant to the world,' Kraisak told a press conference in Bangkok.

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