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Aung San Suu Kyi's Lawyers Challenge Witness Ban

By VOA News
02 June 2009

Lawyers for Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi say they have asked a court to overturn an earlier decision to ban three defense witnesses from testifying at her trial.

Defense lawyers say they filed the appeal Tuesday.

Burmese military authorities have charged the Nobel Prize laureate with violating the terms of her house arrest for allowing U.S. citizen John Yettaw, who swam to her lakeside home in early May, to stay in her house overnight.

The closing arguments in Aung San Suu Kyi's trial are scheduled for Friday. She is facing a five-year prison term if convicted.

Judges in the mostly closed trial have heard only one defense witness, compared to 14 witnesses for the prosecution. The defense witness testified on May 28 that it was the job of government guards outside Aung San Suu Kyi's home to keep intruders out.

The international community has condemned the trial, which it sees as a pretext to keep the opposition leader in detention through the next year's election. She has spent 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest.

Burma's government in exile has said Aung San Suu Kyi's trial has undermined the credibility of Burma's planned 2010 elections.

Members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have urged Burmese military rulers to release the Nobel Peace Prize laureate along with more than 2,000 other political prisoners.

Burma's Deputy Defense Minister Major General Aye Myint told an Asian security summit in Singapore Sunday that police had no choice but to charge Aung San Suu Kyi with violating the terms of her house arrest.

The military has ruled Burma since 1962. Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party won elections in 1990, but the military leadership refused to recognize the results.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP



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