Friday, May 29, 2009

"We are Facing a Crisis of Constitution,” Suu Kyi Tells Lawyer

The Irrawaddy News

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, defense lawyer Nyan Win said that Burmese pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi privately told him that the charges against her are invalid as she was charged under the 1975 State Security law, which was annulled by the 2008 constitution.

“We are facing a crisis of constitution, not a constitutional crisis,” she reportedly told him on Thursday.

The lawyer said that Suu Kyi was referring to a 1975 law enacted under the 1974 constitution, which became invalidated when the military seized power in 1988. In addition, under the junta’s “seven-step road map,” the country approved a new constitution in May 2008 by national referendum, which would also invalidate the 1975 act.

Defense witness Kyi Win (no relation to Suu Kyi’s lawyer Kyi Win) echoed Suu Kyi’s sentiments in the courtroom on Thursday, testifying that if the 1974 constitution was still in effect, then the existing constitution was “null and void,” according to a report in the state-run The New Light of Myanmar on Friday.

Kyi Win testified on the ninth day of Suu Kyi’s trial on Thursday. He was the sole witness that the defense team was allowed to call; however, three other defense witnesses were denied the opportunity to testify, although the court gave no reason for their disqualification.

Kyi Win also questioned the junta’s claims that Suu Kyi was responsible for the intruder in her compound on May 3-5, according to The New Light of Myanmar.

Although misleading, it is believed the state-run newspaper was attempting to translate Kyi Win’s testimony to read that if the State employed guards around Suu Kyi’s property, then the security of the house was its responsibility, not Suu Kyi’s.

Although the official version of Kyi Win’s statement reads otherwise, it is believed he said that the Law to Safeguard the State against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts has already been invalidated.

Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon after court proceedings, Rangoon Northern District Court authorities escorted defendant John William Yettaw to Suu Kyi’s lakeside residence to describe how he had entered and left the compound on May 3-5, Burma’s state-run media reported on Friday.

On the ninth day of the trial, Yettaw reportedly testified to the court that he entered Suu Kyi’s compound in the morning on May 4 and he left just before midnight on May 5, and that he had undertaken to go to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s house of his own accord.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Friday, Nyan Win said Suu Kyi’s defense team had not been informed that court authorities intended to take the American intruder to the lakeside compound.

“The government has just done whatever they wanted,” he said. “In fact, if they want to do something regarding the trial, they must inform us.”

Yettaw reportedly confessed to the court that he accepted that he had broken Burmese immigration law and the law of Rangoon City Development Committee by secretly entering Suu Kyi’s residence at night without asking permission, even though he knew that the house was guarded by security members, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

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