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Updated: September 18, 2009 20:09 IST

Court hears Suu Kyi’s appeal against conviction

P. S. Suryanarayana
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In this November 9, 2007 photo Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is seen at the state guesthouse in Yangon.
AP In this November 9, 2007 photo Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is seen at the state guesthouse in Yangon.

Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal against her recent conviction was heard in a divisional court in Yangon on Friday. The court later set October 2 for the verdict.

Ms. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Laureate, is now serving a new phase of house arrest in Yangon under an executive order of Myanmar’s military government. The executive fiat superseded a trial court’s order of rigorous imprisonment. She was found “guilty” of “violating” the terms of her previous house arrest. In all, she has so far spent much of the last two decades under detention, invariably under house arrest except for a brief spell in prison.

The appellate lawyers argued that the 1974 Constitution, cited to justify the terms of Ms. Suu Kyi’s previous house arrest, was not in force to be so invoked. Nyan Win, her lawyer and political associate, told The Hindu from Yangon on Friday that the appeal was lodged to prove her innocence all the same. She was accused of extending hospitality to an American national towards the end of the term of her previous house arrest.

Mr. Nyan Win said the 1974 Constitution lapsed when the present junta took power exactly 21 years ago to this day. The prosecution’s counter was that the 1974 statute, which allowed “restrictions on the individual rights” of Ms. Suu Kyi, was not scrapped by the military. To this, the appellate lawyers, led by Kyi Win, said she did not violate any provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, which alone should be applied now.

Asked why the appeal was lodged against a superseded order of the trial court, Mr. Nyan Win said the “guilty verdict” was not reversed in the executive fiat. A successful appeal would then undermine the basis of Ms. Suu Kyi’s current house arrest under that executive order.

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