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|1 August 2009
Myanmar postpones Suu Kyi verdict until August 11
Judges in Myanmar postponed the verdict Friday in pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's trial until August 11, reported the Associated Press. The move said the activists was a sign that the ruling junta is hesitating in the face of outrage abroad and fears of unrest at home.
The 64-year-old Nobel Peace laureate is accused of violating the terms of her house arrest when she harbored an American man who swam to her lakeside house and secretly entered the compound. Critics say the military has seized upon the bizarre intrusion as an excuse to keep Suu Kyi jailed through next year's scheduled elections - the country's first free vote in nearly two decades.
But the charges against Suu Kyi - who has been detained for 14 of the last 20 years and was under house arrest at the time of the incident - have refocused international outrage on Myanmar.
Activists and other supporters of Suu Kyi said it was difficult to determine the reason behind the delay, though the regime may be struggling with how to present the verdict - which Suu Kyi herself has said is already "painfully obvious" - to the world.
Jared Genser, Suu Kyi's international counsel, said the junta may simply be hoping the delay will do just that - bury the news item in the height of summer.
"It is in some ways a smart move - push off the verdict until the middle of August when numerous government and U.N. officials around the world will be on vacation," Genser said in an e-mail statement. "But it remains to be seen whether this ploy will work or if anticipation will be heightened in the run up to the issuance of the verdict."
International criticism of the trial has been building since it began May 18, and outrage appeared to peak this month during Asean's Regional Forum, when Southeast Asian countries took the unusual step of joining reliable critics like the United States in condemning the regime and calling for Suu Kyi's release. The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations generally refrain from criticising one another.
“Judge Thun Nyunt said the trial is adjourned until August 11 to consider some legal issues concerning the case," defense lawyer Nyan Win told reporters.
After the announcement, Suu Kyi rose to her feet, turned to foreign diplomats in the courtroom and joked, "I apologize for giving you more work," a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol. Journalists were not allowed inside the tribunal.
Earlier on Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon pressed for the immediate release of detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi during a meeting with Myanmar's UN ambassador ahead of the verdict in her trial, according to a UN spokesman.
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