US man’s health in Suu Kyi case could delay verdict: official

US man’s health in Suu Kyi case could delay verdict: official

Yangon: The ongoing seizures suffered by the US man on trial in Myanmar for trespassing at opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s home could further delay a court verdict, an official told AFP on Thursday.

John Yettaw, 54, who according to his lawyer has epilepsy and other health problems, is being treated in intensive care at Yangon General Hospital after being taken from Insein prison on Monday night.

“If it continues like this the trial could be delayed, but it is up to the senior authorities," the Myanmar official said on condition of anonymity.

“Mr Yettaw is getting better but he is still in intensive care because sometimes he has fits."

American Yettaw is on trial in the military-run nation alongside Suu Kyi and two of her female aides for swimming in makeshift flippers to her lakeside home in May — he says to warn her of his vision she would be assassinated.

A US embassy spokesman said a consular official had seen and spoken with Yettaw in hospital on Wednesday afternoon after applying for permission to visit him two days earlier, but gave no details of the patient’s condition.

A hospital worker said Wednesday that Yettaw’s health was improving but that neurological specialists had visited the unit to give him treatment.

His lawyer, Khin Maung Oo, said Yettaw had been staying at the prison’s hospital throughout his trial, where he had been receiving treatment for diabetes, epilepsy and a heart complaint.

Yettaw faces charges of abetting Suu Kyi’s breach of security laws, immigration violations and a municipal charge of illegal swimming. All four defendants face up to five years in prison.

A verdict in Suu Kyi’s two-and-a-half month trial had been expected last week but judges postponed their pronouncement until 11 August, saying they needed time to review the case.

Yettaw was arrested just days before the most recent, six-year spell of Suu Kyi’s house arrest was due to expire and critics say the charges have been trumped up to keep her locked away until after elections scheduled for 2010.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday reiterated calls for Myanmar’s military junta to free political prisoners, including the detained democracy icon.

“I expect authorities of Myanmar will respond positively and in a timely manner to the expectation and concerns and repeated calls of the international community to release all political prisoners and particularly Aung San Suu Kyi," he told reporters.

Myanmar’s ruling junta has kept Suu Kyi in detention for nearly 14 of the past 20 years, since it refused to recognize her National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s landslide victory in elections in 1990.