Suu Kyi lawyers to appeal sentence at top Myanmar court
Mon, Dec 21, 2009

YANGON - Lawyers for Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi were set to argue an appeal against her extended house arrest sentence at the country's supreme court on Monday.

The 64-year-old democracy icon was ordered to spend another 18 months in detention in August after being convicted over an incident in which a US man swam to her house. A lower court rejected an initial appeal in October.

"We all four lawyers will go to the supreme court and give our arguments," said Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi's legal team and a spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD).

"We will argue that Daw Suu is not guilty according to the law," he told AFP. Daw is a term of respect in Myanmar.

The hearing at the Yangon court was expected to begin at 10am local time (0330 GMT) and last around an hour. Observers said there would be no verdict on Monday and Suu Kyi was not expected to attend the hearing.

Myanmar's military rulers have kept Suu Kyi in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, since they refused to recognise the NLD's landslide victory in the country's last democratic elections in 1990.

The extension of her detention after a prison trial sparked international outrage as it effectively keeps her off the stage for elections promised by the regime some time in 2010.

But in recent months the United States, followed by the European Union, has shifted towards a policy of greater engagement with Myanmar - which has been under military rule since 1962 - as sanction have failed to bear fruit.

Suu Kyi has also changed tack after years of favouring harsh measures, writing twice to junta chief Than Shwe since September offering her cooperation in getting Western sanctions lifted.

She has since met three times with the government liaison officer and last week she was granted a meeting with three elderly senior NLD members, at which she asked for their approval to reorganise the party leadership committee.

In November the regime allowed her to make a rare appearance in front of the media after holding talks with US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the highest level official from Washington to visit Myanmar for 14 years.

A visit by US senator Jim Webb in August secured the release of John Yettaw, the American man who swam across a lake to Suu Kyi's mansion in May and sparked the case that led to her detention being prolonged.

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