Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi 'guilty' !

Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi in Seoul, South Korea
There have been international calls for Ms Suu Kyi's release

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to an additional 18 months' house arrest by a court in Rangoon.

Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, was convicted of violating state security laws by allowing a US national into her lakeside home after he swam there.

She was jailed for three years with hard labour, but this was commuted to house arrest, an official said.

American John Yettaw was jailed for seven years, four with hard labour.

Ms Suu Kyi, who has spent nearly 14 of the past 20 years in detention, had denied the charge but said she expected to be convicted.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "saddened and angry" by the verdict and described the trial as a "sham".

He said it was "a purely political sentence" designed to prevent her from taking part in next year's planned elections.

Journalists had unexpectedly been allowed to enter the courtroom in Rangoon's Insein prison shortly before the sentence was announced

Following the reading of Ms Suu Kyi's sentence there was a five-minute recess before the country's home minister entered the courtroom and read out a special order from Burma's military ruler Than Shwe.

The order said he was commuting the sentence and that it could be served under house arrest.

There was tight security around the prison, with security forces sealing off the area.

The trial has brought international condemnation, with critics accusing Burma's military government of trying to keep Ms Suu Kyi out of the 2010 elections.

Than Shwe (file image)
Than Shwe commuted Ms Suu Kyi's sentence

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.

Mr Yettaw, 54, swam to Ms Suu Kyi's lakeside house in Rangoon uninvited, and stayed there for two nights in May. As a result, Ms Suu Kyi was placed under arrest and accused of breaching the terms of her house arrest.

Mr Yettaw is believed to have epilepsy, diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder and has been treated at a Rangoon hospital.

Reports say he was discharged from hospital on Monday night after a week of treatment for epileptic seizures.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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