Detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is innocent of charges levelled against her by Burma’s ruling military, her lawyer has said, as she prepared for the start of her trial today.
Suu Kyi is accused of violating the terms of her house arrest by being visited by an American man who swam across a lake to her home earlier this month.
“After listening to the sequence of events, it is very clear that there is no breach of conditions of her restrictions,” lawyer Kyi Win said after visiting the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who is being held at Yangon’s Insein prison. Suu Kyi (63) was charged on Thursday with sheltering John Yettaw, reportedly a Vietnam War veteran, who will also be tried along with two female assistants who have been with Suu Kyi since 2003.
Suu Kyi had been scheduled to be freed on May 27 after six consecutive years of house arrest but now faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
The charges are widely seen as a pretext for the ruling junta to keep Suu Kyi detained past elections it has scheduled for next year as the culmination of a “roadmap to democracy” which has been criticised as a fig leaf for continued military control. In today’s court session, Kyi Win said Suu Kyi’s defence team will ask for an open trial and may also request bail.
Her latest arrest has sparked a storm of international appeals to Burma’s government to free her and to restore democracy in the country, which has been under military rule since 1962.
Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Kyi Win, was allowed to meet privately with her in prison at the weekend.
He said after hearing her story it was clear she did not violate her house arrest conditions.