21 May 2009

International observers barred from Suu Kyi trial

10:42 pm on 21 May 2009

Authorities in Myanmar have barred international observers from the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, a day after allowing them to attend.

The government opened proceedings to diplomats and journalists on Wednesday, in an apparent response to criticism.

But an official said that the move had been "only for one day".

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of breaking the terms of her house arrest, after an American man swam across a lake to visit her.

Defence lawyers have argued that she did not invite John Yettaw to visit, and only allowed him to stay because he said he was exhausted.

Ms Suu Kyi, 63, has been in detention for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

Her latest period of house arrest was scheduled to expire on 27 May, and many observers see this case against her as a pretext to ensure she is still in detention during next year's elections.

On Wednesday Ms Suu Kyi was allowed to speak to three foreign diplomats. Several others, along with 10 journalists, were allowed into court at Insein prison in Yangon.

But an official said that the court would not be open to international observers on Thursday.

NZ expresses concern

The New Zealand Government has expressed concerns over the Ms Suu Kyi's trial.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully says the Government doubts she will get a fair hearing and continues to call for her immediate release.

He says the Myanmar government needs to listen to criticism from the international community and end the trial.

Mr McCully says New Zealand voiced its concerns at a regional meeting in Thailand earlier this week and will continue to speak out on the issue.