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Updated: August 12, 2009 15:52 IST

Suu Kyi found ‘guilty;’ sentence reduced

P. S. Suryanarayana
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SINGAPORE: In a courtroom drama in Yangon on Tuesday, Myanmar’s junta commuted a tough sentence within minutes of its being pronounced against celebrated democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, according to her defence lawyers, who spoke to The Hindu over the telephone,

Home Minister Maung Ooo appeared in the courtroom through a backdoor, soon after the judgment was delivered, and announced that Ms. Suu Kyi would serve “an 18-month house arrest instead of a three-year imprisonment.”

Ms. Suu Kyi has already served nearly 14 years of house arrest since she was prevented by the military rulers from forming and leading a government after her National League for Democracy’s big win in the 1990 election, a rare democratic exercise in Myanmar. For a few months during this period, she was also sent to prison.

The last phase of her house arrest ended on May 27; but before that day itself, she was put on trial for an alleged violation of the restrictions that were imposed on her. She was accused of extending hospitality to American John Yettaw, who swam to her lakeside residence and stayed at her place for two days, when she was still under house arrest. Her defence lawyers and NLD leaders Kyi Win and Nyan Win told The Hindu that the two trial judges had hardly retired to their chambers when the Home Minister, a General, made his way and read out an executive fiat in the style of “a public address.”

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