Suu Kyi Sentenced to 18 Months House Arrest


11st Aug 2009, irrawaddy news

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to a further 18 months house arrest by Rangoon Northern District Court on Tuesday, according to representatives of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

NLD spokesman Khin Maung Swe told The Irrawaddy that the verdict was delivered at 11:50 a.m. Suu Kyi was initially sentenced to three years imprisonment, but later the court changed her sentence to 18 months to be served under house arrest.

A protester displays a yellow Chrysanthemum in front of an old portrait of Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest at the Burmese Embassy at Manila’s financial district of Makati city on August 11. (Photo: AP)

Journalists were unexpectedly allowed to be present in the court when the verdict was announced.

According to journalists, Burmese Home Minister Maung Oo entered the courtroom after the three-year sentence was announced and read aloud a special order from junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe stating that as Suu Kyi is the daughter of national hero Gen Aung San, her sentence should be reduced to 18 months and that the sentence should be suspended.

The same terms of suspended sentence were applied to the verdict on Suu Kyi’s two companions, Win Ma Ma and Khin Khin Win.

The Burmese state-run radio also announced the verdict on Tuesday afternoon.

The verdict was read under tightened security inside the Insein Prison compound. The trial had been held in the prison since May following the intrusion into her house of an American, John W Yettaw.

At a simultaneous trial, Yettaw was on Tuesday sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labor. According to Agence France-Presse, the seven-year term included three years for breaking immigration laws, three years for breeching security laws and one year for swimming unauthorized in Inya Lake.

Suu Kyi has been detained for nearly 14 of the last 20 years, mostly under house arrest. Analysts generally concur that the trial was a political showcase and that the military junta want to keep her under arrest ahead of the elections in 2010.

“We believe Suu Kyi is being imprisoned to stop her speaking and to limit her effect on
next year’s elections,” Oliver Spencer, Burma Program Officer of the London-based Article 19 told The Irrawaddy in an e-mail.

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