RANGOON — Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was “absolutely dissatisfied” that her trial was adjourned Friday because it will give the prosecution more time to prepare its case, her lawyer said.
Suu Kyi’s trial was postponed until Monday after her defense gave a 30-page closing statement, said one of her lawyers, Nyan Win.
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 faces a possible five-year prison sentence.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she was absolutely dissatisfied with the arrangement—giving more time for the prosecution to prepare the argument,” said Nyan Win, using the respectful term “daw” for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Nyan Win said that to ensure fairness, the usual practice is for courts to allow both parties to give their closing arguments on the same day.
On Monday, Suu Kyi’s two female companions, who are also on trial, will give their statements, and the lawyer for American John William Yettaw, who is charged with trespassing, is to present his argument.
The verdicts are expected sometime next month.
One diplomat attending the trial, speaking on condition of anonymity citing protocol, said Suu Kyi looked all right in court. “She was well and in good spirits. She was seen joking with her lawyers,” the diplomat said. The defense has not contested the facts of the case but argues that the relevant law has been misapplied by the authorities and that Suu Kyi was charged under a constitution abolished two decades ago. They also assert that the security guards who ensure Suu Kyi remained inside her compound should be held responsible for any intrusion on her property.
Security was tight around Insein Prison—where Suu Kyi is being held and the trial is ongoing—with roads blocked with barbed wire barricades manned by police. Seven truckloads of riot police were deployed around the compound and pro-government supporters were seen gathering near the area.
Diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, Norway and Italy who had earlier requested access were allowed into the courtroom for Friday’s session, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity citing protocol. It was the third time during the mostly closed-door trial that such access has been granted.
The resumption of the trial came after US, European and Asian officials—including the top diplomat from Burma—wound up a conference on Thursday in neighboring Thailand that put Burma’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.
At an Asia-Pacific security forum on Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered Burma the prospect of better relations with the United States, but said that depended in part on the fate of Suu Kyi.
Burmese state media rejected the criticism on Thursday, accusing those calling for Suu Kyi’s release of “interference.”
“Demanding release of Daw Suu Kyi means showing reckless disregard for the law,” said the editorial in the English-language New Light of Myanmar, the military junta’s mouthpiece. “Daw” is a term of respect in Burma.
Also on trial, and facing the same charges as Suu Kyi, are two female members of her political party who were her sole companions under house arrest.
The trial started May 18. The court had approved 23 prosecution witnesses, of which 14 took the stand. Only two out of four defense witnesses were allowed.
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.
Suu Kyi’s opposition party won national elections in 1990, but Burma’s generals refused to relinquish power. Suu Kyi, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years.