Thursday, June 11, 2009

Myanmar's Suu Kyi hits out over guarded home

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is dissatisfied that her lakeside home is still guarded by authorities despite her house arrest officially ending in May, a lawyer has said.

The Nobel laureate, currently held in Yangon's notorious Insein prison, said friends had been denied access to her residence despite the fact that police told her in May that the house arrest had been cancelled.

The 63-year-old is on trial for breaching the terms of her house arrest following a bizarre incident in which a US man swam to the property in May. She faces up to five years in jail if convicted.

"She is not very satisfied," said Nyan Win, one of her three lawyers and the spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD), after meeting with the opposition leader inside the prison on Wednesday.

"She said that her house arrest ended on May 26, but her friends are not allowed to go into her house for cleaning. Security staff said they are still waiting for permission from their superiors," Nyan Win told AFP.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention since Myanmar's military junta refused to recognise the NLD's landslide victory in the country's last elections, in 1990.

She has spent most of that time in virtual isolation at her house, where the regime has allowed her visits from only a handful of people including her doctors and lawyers.

Nyan Win said her legal team planned to lodge a high court appeal to allow two further defence witnesses at her trial, after Aung San Suu Kyi instructed them to push ahead with the move during the prison visit.

A lower court on Tuesday overturned a ban on her having a second defence witness to testify -- one legal expert has already given evidence -- but a ban on two other witnesses was upheld.

"We are preparing to submit an application to the high court today. If our paperwork is completed today, we can submit it," Nyan Win said.

The two barred defence witnesses are Win Tin, a dissident journalist who was Myanmar's longest serving prisoner until his release in September, and Tin Oo, the detained deputy leader of the NLD.

The trial, which has drawn a storm of international protest, is due to resume for a procedural hearing on Friday.

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