23 May 2009

Suu Kyi proclaims innocence

7:17 am on 23 May 2009

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial for breaking the terms of her house arrest, has reportedly told a court she committed no crime.

Defence lawyer Nyan Win says prosecutors have ended their case days earlier than expected. They had been expected to call 22 witnesses, but far fewer actually took the stand.

Ms Suu Kyi was due for release on 27 May, but the charges she faces carry a maximum of five years in prison.

Observers say Burma's military rulers are using the charges to keep her in prison during an election due next year.

She faces an accusation that she allowed a US national to stay in her home, breaching the conditions of her house arrest.

Mr Win said the presiding judge asked Ms Suu Kyi whether she was guilty and she replied: "I have no guilt as I didn't commit any crime."

The trial is being held behind closed doors at Insein prison in Rangoon.

The BBC reports the hearing is expected to resume on Monday when the defence will present its case.

Guilty verdict expected

The man who swam across a lake to reach her house, is also on trial. He is reported to have testified that he made the visit because he had dreamt that she was going to be assassinated.

Ms Suu Kyi's lawyers say she tried to send the man away, but he refused to go.

Ms Suu Kyi's trial opened on Monday. Diplomats expect her to be found guilty.

She has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

Her party, the National League for Democracy, won the country's last general election in 1990 - but she was never allowed to take power.