1 Jun 2009

Suu Kyi lawyers prepare final arguments for trial

8:32 pm on 1 June 2009

Lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi said on Monday they were working on the final arguments in her trial, a day after Myanmar's military rulers accused her of covering up the presence of an American man in her home.

The pro-democracy leader's legal team said they hoped to meet with Ms Suu Kyi this week at the jail where she is being held, before the prosecution and defence present closing arguments to the court on Friday.

The Nobel laureate faces up to five years in jail on charges of breaching the terms of her house arrest following an incident last month in which former US army veteran John Yettaw swam to her lakeside house.

No hearings are expected in her trial at Insein Prison until Friday, but Mr Yettaw is due back in court on Monday on separate charges including immigration violations, a Myanmar official said.

On Sunday deputy defence minister Major General Aye Myint rejected foreign criticism of the trial and said Ms Suu Kyi, 63, was facing normal legal procedures.

"It is no doubt that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has committed a cover-up of the truth by her failure to report an illegal immigrant to the authorities concerned," he told a security forum in Singapore.

A guilty verdict is widely expected as Myanmar's courts have a track record of handing down tough sentences to dissidents, often in secret hearings.

Ms Suu Kyi said last week that the charges against her were "one-sided". She accused authorities of failing to provide proper security despite the fact that she informed them of a previous intrusion by Mr Yettaw in November 2008.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention, mostly in isolation at her home. Her party won the country's last elections, in 1990, but the result was never honoured by the junta.