12 Aug 2009

Suu Kyi to appeal home detention sentence

10:23 pm on 12 August 2009

Lawyers for Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi say they will launch an appeal against the additional 18-month house detention sentence imposed on her.

Ms Suu Kyi, 64, was sentenced on Tuesday for breaching the country's security laws after an American swam to her home uninvited earlier this year.

Critics of the military regime say the Suu Kyi verdict is designed to prevent the Nobel Peace Prize laureate from taking part in elections scheduled for 2010.

Ms Suu Kyi has been in detention for 14 of the past 20 years since the ruling generals refused to recognise a landslide victory by her her National League for Democracy in elections in 1990.

The last six-year period of her house arrest expired just after the trial started in May.

Lawyers for John Yettaw, 54, who has been sentenced to seven years of hard labour and imprisonment, say they will also appeal.

Mr Yettaw, a Mormon, earlier testified that he swam to the house after receiving a "message from God" that he must protect Ms Suu Kyi against a terrorist plot to assassinate her.

Verdict condemned

Western nations pressed the United Nations Security Council to adopt a statement condemning the sentence, but other countries, including veto-wielding members Russia and China, stalled for time.

The verdict drew criticism from leaders around the world.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it "monstrous", while French President Nicolas Sarkozy said it was "brutal and unjust."

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he deplores the conviction and called for Ms Suu Kyi's immediate and unconditional release.

The UN Security Council calling a special meeting to discuss the decision, while the European Union has threatened fresh sanctions.

American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the trial and also demanded the release of Mr Yettaw.

Ruling should be respected - China

China says the world should respect Myanmar's judicial sovereignty following Ms Suu Kyi's sentencing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu on Wednesday repeated a call for all sides in Myanmar to talk to each other, but requested non-interference from the outside world.

"As a neighbour of Myanmar's, China hopes all sides in Myanmar can push ethnic reconciliation through talks, and gradually realise stability, democracy and development," Ms Jiang said in a statement.

China is one of the few nations that stands by the military junta running the former Burma, has close economic ties with the government and has invested heavily in the country's natural resources sector, especially in the energy field.

But it has also been worried by the gambling, drug-running and crime that spills over from hilly and isolated northern Myanmar into the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.

India, another country with strong business links to Myanmar, has urged the generals to speed political reforms, saying it hoped the issue of release of political prisoners would be addressed as part of that process.