Monday, May 25, 2009

Suu Kyi Lawyer Questions Gov’t Witnesses

The Irrawaddy News

On the second day of the trial of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, her lawyer cross-examined four government witnesses, said Kyi Win, a member of her legal team.

The special government court in Insein Prison on Friday accepted charges against Suu Kyi that she violated the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man, John William Yettaw, 53, to stay overnight at her compound after he swam across Inya Lake.

Burmese activists shout slogans during a rally demanding the immediate release of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in front of the Burmese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo:AP)
The government called a number of witnesses on Friday, mainly police officers, who testified about Yettaw’s arrest and statements to police.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Khin Kin Win, Win Ma Man and Yettaw will testify at the trial on Tuesday,” said Kyi Win.

Khin Kin Win and Win Ma Man are caretakers who live with Suu Kyi in the compound, where she has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

Kyi Win said that Suu Kyi’s legal team requested that the court allow a one hour break during the court proceeding. The judges did not rule on the request on Monday.

“We need at least one hour to converse about the charge,” said Kyi Win. “We need some time to talk to Suu Kyi, her caretakers and Yettaw before they testify. If they don’t allow that, the trial will not be fair.”

John William Yettaw swam to Suu Kyi’s compound on May 3, where, claiming illness, he was allowed to stay for two nights, according to Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi has entered an innocent plea in the trial.

She said she had nothing to do with Yettaw’s breaching security around her compound, and she told him to leave the premises, according to her lawyers.

Meanwhile, Win Tin, an executive member of National League for Democracy party, told the The Irrawaddy on Monday that the military government has yet to make clear the location where Yettaw started to swim toward Suu Kyi lakeside resident. Some reports have placed the location 2 kilometers from the compound.

According to a foreign affairs ministry letter to Rangoon diplomats, Aung San Suu Kyi is not being held in Insein Prison, as some news media have said, but she and her two caretakers are being detained at the officers' quarters of the Myanmar Correctional Department.

In the letter, the military government said the trial would be transparent and fair. The public, diplomats and journalists are now excluded from attending the trial. Diplomats and journalist were allowed to witness the trial for one day last week.

The intent of Yettaw is still not known, the ministry letter claimed, and the possibility of a political motive cannot be excluded, it said. Yettaw has said he was working on a book and hoped to interview Suu Kyi as part of his project.

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