Aung San Oo loses case to stop Suu Kyi’s house repairs

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The lawsuit filed by a brother of Aung San Suu Kyi to stop her continuing repairs on her crumbling two-storey villa was rejected by a court in Rangoon on Tuesday, a lawyer for the pro-democracy leader said.

Elder brother Aung San Oo, a US citizen, had through his lawyer Han Toe, sought an injunction from the Rangoon Division Court on January 21 to halt renovations that included fixing the leaking roof of the house on University Avenue Road. The lawsuit was rejected, Nyan Win, a lawyer for Aung San Suu Kyi, said.

With the approval of the Rangoon City Development Committee, lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi had filed a counterclaim on February 4. They had submitted that the renovation would not cause damage to the property, the ownership of which is under dispute, so her brother could not object to the repairs, he said.

“The lawsuit of Aung San Oo was rejected at noon on April 6, because it lacked sufficient basis. So, we have won in court,” Nyan Win said. “Renovations to her residence can resume on April 8 after a copy of the order of the Rangoon Division Court is submitted to the Rangoon City Development Committee.”

In its verdict, the court cited general principles of safety and maintenance as reasons for deciding against Aung San Oo, he said.

Although the Rangoon City Development Committee approved last November the start of repairs in recognition that the building had become dangerous, they were put on hold on December 23 after lawyers for Aung San Oo obtained an injunction, citing his claim on the property.

Dr. Suu Kyi’s house arrest was prolonged 18 months for breaching the terms of her detention after the uninvited American, John Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake in May and stayed in her house for two days before authorities arrested him.

The Independent of London reported in February that the row over the house started in 2000 when Aung San Oo, who had become a US citizen, sued his sister in Rangoon High Court for a share in the family home. She has been detained for more than 14 years. The report said, her lawyers won but in 2001 her brother filed another suit and that the matter was still pending.

Hla Oo, from the Burmese democratic government in exile, commented on the legality of Aung San Oo’s claims to the house. In a post on the Australian National University’s Southeast Asian affairs blog, New Mandala, he said: “The property ownership is the massively grey area in Burmese legal system for the Burmese with dual citizenship.”

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