18 May 2009

Myanmar's Suu Kyi goes on trial

7:05 pm on 18 May 2009

The trial of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi opened on Monday at a prison near Yangon, where she is charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest.

The 63-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was charged last Thursday in connection with an incident earlier in May in which an apparently uninvited American man swam to her lakeside house and stayed for two days.

Ms Suu Kyi's lawyer, Kyi Win, was allowed to meet her for one hour on Saturday at a guest house inside Insein Central Prison. He said she is "ready to tell the truth that she never broke the law."

If convicted, Ms Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail.

Myanmar has faced a storm of international protest over the charges, which critics say have been trumped up by the military regime to keep her behind bars for controversial polls scheduled by the generals for 2010.

The conditions of Ms Suu Kyi's house arrest were set to expire on 27 May after six years of detention.

The prison is has been ringed with police and barricades. Independent witnesses and members of the public have been banned from attending her trial.

Dissidents have called for "silent rallies" on Monday to protest against the trial.

The American intruder who triggered the case against Ms Suu Kyi is also expected to stand trial on several charges.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide election victory in 1990 only to be denied power by the military, which has ruled the former Burma since 1962.