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29 May 2009

Myanmar insists trial of opposition leader an internal affair

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Myanmar deputy foreign minister on Thursday rejected Asian and European 'pressure and interference' over the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, saying it was neither a political nor a human rights issue, reported AFP.

Speaking at a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and EU ministers in the Cambodian capital, Maung Myint said the charges against the pro-democracy icon were an 'internal legal issue'.

The statement, one of the strongest yet from the military regime, came as Asean and European ministers opened talks in Phnom Penh with pledges to boost ties with the Myanmar issue looming in the background.

In Yangon, former capital of Myanmar, lawyers for Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed optimism about her case after the only witness allowed to testify for the defense addressed the court in her trial on charges of violating house arrest, the Associated Press reported.

Closing arguments in a case that could send the Nobel Peace laureate to prison for five years are set to be heard Monday. The defense has argued that there is no legal basis for the charge that Suu Kyi had violated the terms of her house arrest when an uninvited American swam secretly to her home.

Suu Kyi's supporters fear that she may be found guilty because the courts are under the influence of the ruling junta and usually mete out harsh punishment for political dissidents.

But one of Suu Kyi's lawyers, Nyan Win, said Thursday night he was "very confident of victory if the trial is carried out according to law." The court will be in recess Friday.

The trial has drawn outrage from the international community and Suu Kyi's local supporters, who worry that the military junta has found an excuse to keep her detained through next year's elections. Her party won the last elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power by the military, which has run the country since 1962.


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