Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Predicting Suu Kyi’s trial is “contempt of court”: Junta’s mouthpiece

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – With speculation rife that the court will pronounce pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi “guilty”, Burma’s state-run newspaper on Wednesday warned against predicting the outcome saying it amounts to ‘contempt of court’.

A commentary in the New Light of Myanmar, the junta’s mouthpiece, on Wednesday justified the trial against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her two live-in party mates and John William Yettaw, the American man, who swam across a lake and sneaked into Aung San Suu Kyi’s home, saying they have violated the law.

The newspaper while justifying the charges and trial said, “Everyone who breaches the law shall face a lawsuit and obey the court decision.”

On Tuesday, the court heard final arguments by the defence attorneys, formally ending the over two-month long trial. Now the court’s verdict is awaited on Friday.

Nyan Win, one of the defence lawyers, told Mizzima on Tuesday that legally the trial has proved Aung San Suu Kyi’s innocence and there is not sufficient ground to find her guilty. But he refused to comment on the possible outcome of the trial.

But many observers including senior leaders of the National League for Democracy, Win Tin, said the court will find her “guilty” and sentence her to a prison term.

However, the newspaper on Wednesday warned against such comments saying, “biased writings about the trial in progress, writings about which side will win or lose in that trial, predicted writings about the possibility of the defendant’s conviction and writings about tendency to give instructions to the judgment of the judge” amounts to contempt of court.

But Win Tin said the trial itself is unfair and there are no grounds to charge the pro-democracy leader as it is not her fault in a stranger forcing his way into her house, as she had not invited him.

He said the court is not acting independently in filing a lawsuit against the Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate and even in the trial, stating instances of the court dismissing two out of the four defence witnesses while allowing several prosecution witnesses.

He said even in the last stage of the trial – submission of final arguments by lawyers of both sides – the court has shown partiality towards the prosecution by setting a two-day gap after the defence had submitted their arguments.

“Daw Suu had told her lawyer that she was not happy with the two-day gap between the defence and prosecution’s submission of their final arguments,” Win Tin said.

The trial, which began on May 18, has attracted the attention of human rights activists, politicians, world leaders and celebrities calling for her immediate release along with other political prisoners in Burma.

The commentary on Wednesday also attacked such calls saying calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release while she is facing a court trial amounts to contempt of court.

Despite the newspaper’s claim that Aung San Suu Kyi would be released if she is found not guilty, Win Tin said it is obvious that the junta is all set to continue detaining her.

“It seems to me that the junta is all set to detain her in anyway. But it may possibly buy-time in doing so if the pressures mount,” Win Tin said.

He added that with the kind of international as well as internal pressure mounting over the trial, the Insein prison court might not pass a strong verdict on Aung San Suu Kyi.

“But it is likely that the prosecution will go to a higher court and appeal and then they will sentence her,” he added.

According to him, it is unlikely that the Insein prison court will sentence her heavily at the moment to ease the mounting pressure, but that does not mean Aung San Suu Kyi will be acquitted.

“In anyway, they will detain her,” he added.

He also said, Wednesday’s commentary in the New Light of Myanmar might be a warning that the junta intends to crackdown on opposition figures, who are commenting on the trial and speculating on the junta’s possible plans.

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