24 Jul 2009

Trial of Myanmar's Suu Kyi nears end

9:24 pm on 24 July 2009

The trial of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has resumed in Yangon, with lawyers presenting closing statements to court.

Ms Suu Kyi is being tried on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest in May, after an American man evaded guards and swam to her lakeside home.

If convicted, she faces up to five years in jail.

The trial has been widely condemned as a ploy to keep the Nobel Peace laureate in custody until after elections, the BBC reports.

Polls are planned by the military government for some time next year. Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last elections in 1988 but was never allowed to take power.

Ms Suu Kyi, 64, has spent nearly 14 of the last 20 years in detention, much of it at her Yangon home.

The trial, which had been expected to wrap up in days when it started, has dragged on for more than two months.

An official who did not wish to be identified told the Associated Press news agency that proceedings had resumed at Insein prison.

In its final summing up, the prosecution is expected to restate its argument that Ms Suu Kyi must be held responsible for the midnight swim to her home by an American well-wisher in early May.

Her lawyers have argued that the law she has been charged under is part of a constitution abolished 25 years ago.

In any case, they say, she cannot be responsible for the incident as she was living under tightly-guarded house arrest at the time.

Only two witnesses have been allowed to testify for the defence. Twenty-three prosecution witnesses were approved, of whom 14 have testified.