Yangon:Lawyers for Myanmar’s jailed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi are scheduled to present final arguments Friday in their efforts to save her from a five-year prison term.
Suu Kyi, 64, is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by harboring an uninvited American man who swam to her lakeside home and stayed for two days. She is being detained at Myanmar’s notorious Insein Prison.
Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi’s defense lawyers, said the legal team met with her Thursday to finalize their 23-page closing argument, which will be presented when the widely criticized proceedings resume Friday afternoon.
“We are very optimistic because our arguments are based on solid legal points,” Suu Kyi’s main lawyer Kyi Win said. “We have the law on our side, but we don’t know if the judges are on our side.”
The defense has not contested the basic facts of the case but argues the relevant law has been misapplied by the authorities. They also assert that the security guards who ensure Suu Kyi remains inside her compound should also be held responsible for any intrusion on her property.
Diplomats from Britain, France, Germany and Italy who had earlier requested access will be allowed into the courtroom for Friday’s session, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity citing protocol. It will be the third time during the mostly closed-door trial that such access has been granted.
The resumption of the trial came as US, European and Asian officials, including the top diplomat from Myanmar, wound up a conference Thursday in neighboring Thailand that put Myanmar’s human rights record in the spotlight.
The trial has drawn condemnation from the international community and Suu Kyi’s local supporters, who worry the ruling junta has found an excuse to keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year. The verdict is expected sometime next month.
Also on trial, and facing the same charges as Suu Kyi, are two female members of her party who were her sole companions under house arrest. The American, John Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Missouri, is charged with trespassing.
The trial started 18 May. The court had approved 23 prosecution witnesses, of which 14 took the stand. Only two out of four defense witnesses were allowed to testify.
Yettaw has pleaded not guilty and explained in court that he had a dream that Suu Kyi would be assassinated and he had gone to warn her.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.
Suu Kyi’s opposition party won national elections in 1990, but Myanmar’s generals refused to relinquish power. Suu Kyi, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years.