Thursday, May 14, 2009

Suu Kyi and US citizen charged

(DVB)–Charges have been brought against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi relating to her contact with the US citizen who last week spent two nights in her compound, where she is being held under house arrest.

According to Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Kyi Win, the official court trial will take place on 18 May, after Kyi Win has applied for the right for a formal legal defence.

The charge falls under Article 22 of the Burmese penal code, which bars her from contact with foreign diplomats and political organisations, and contact with any outsiders without permission.

Article 22 carries a sentence of between three and five years.

The US citizen John William Yettaw, along with Suu Kyi’s two caretakers, has been charged under Article 22/109, relating to aiding and abetting the breaking of Article 22.

All four remain at Rangoon’s Insein prison, where the trial is being held.

Lawyer Kyi Win said that a member of the Special Branch police unit, Police Colonel Zaw Min Aung, brought the charges against both parties, while two judges and a jury will form the special court in which the trial will take place.

Last Wednesday, Yettaw was arrested after swimming across Lake Inya in Rangoon, apparently after having spent two nights in Suu Kyi’s compound.

Under conditions of her house arrest, Suu Kyi is forbidden to have visitors. A broader Burmese law states that no foreigner is allowed to spend the night at a local’s house.

US embassy staff held a brief meeting with John Yettaw yesterday, but no details were given as to his motives.

“We weren’t able to get any details from him about the circumstances – there were other people in the room – and so they didn’t talk about anything in great detail,” said Richard Mei.

Suu Kyi’s doctor, Tin Myo Win, was detained the day after Yettaw was arrested. There has been no news of his situation.

Suu Kyi’s current internment under house arrest is due to expire on 27 May, as stated by the Burmese government.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw and Francis Wade

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