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29 July 2009

Verdict on Myanmar’s democracy leader due Friday

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The high-profile trial against Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be wrapped up on Friday when the verdict will be handed down, according to a report posted on

“Neither outside pressure nor the possibility of closer ties with the West have deterred the ruling junta, who appeared determined to find her guilty and keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year,” said the report.

Nyan Win, a lawyer for Ms Suu Kyi, said he preferred not to speculate on the outcome, but that he had "never seen any defendant in a political case (in Myanmar) being set free." Suu Kyi's lawyers had not been expecting a ruling until next month, and it was not immediately clear why the court moved the date for the verdict forward.

The detained 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate could be imprisoned for five years if she is convicted on charges that she violated the terms of her house arrest by harboring an American visitor John William Yettaw who swam univited to her lakeside home and stayed for two days.

Diplomats from the US, Japan, Singapore and Thailand were allowed to attend the last day of the trial on Tuesday, one of the diplomats said. Suu Kyi who has been in detention for 14 of the past 20 years thanked the diplomats during the hearing "for trying to promote a just outcome," but said she was not optimistic.

"I'm afraid the verdict will be painfully obvious," she said, according to several diplomats who heard her comments in court.

Her defence team delivered its final arguments in the trial on Tuesday a day after the prosecution closed its case but was not allowed to put a foreign ministry official on the stand, Nyan Win said. He said the court ruled that the ministry official's testimony was "not important." The court rejected all but two of the defence's witnesses.

Meanwhile Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has postponed his visit to Myanmar scheduled on Friday to next month, according to government spokesman Panithan Wattanayakorn.

The spokesman said Myanmar informed Thailand that it would be engaged in domestic issues during this week particularly Friday.


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