The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate has already been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, mostly under house arrest, and the extension will remove her from the political scene during the junta-organised elections in Myanmar next year.
A Myanmar court found democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty Tuesday of violating her house arrest by allowing an uninvited American to stay at her home. The head of the military-ruled country ordered her to serve an 18-month sentence under house arrest.
The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate has already been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, mostly under house arrest, and the extension will remove her from the political scene while the country holds junta-organised elections next year.
Ms. Suu Kyi looked alert but tired during the 90-minute court session. After the verdict was announced, she stood and thanked foreign diplomats for attending her trial.
“I hope we can all work for peace and prosperity of the country,” Ms. Suu Kyi said in a soft voice to diplomats seated nearby. She then was led out of the courtroom.
Officials said she was driven back to her lakeside villa to serve the house arrest. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the high-profile case.
The American, John Yettaw, was sentenced to seven years in prison, including four with hard labour.
Ms. Suu Kyi had faced up to five years in prison for allowing Mr. Yettaw to stay for two nights after he swam across a lake to reach her.
The court initially sentenced Ms. Suu Kyi to a three-year prison term. But after a five-minute recess, the country’s Home Minister entered the courtroom and read aloud a special order from junta chief, Senior Gen. Than Shwe.
The order said Gen. Than Shwe was cutting the sentence in half to 18 months and that it could be served under house arrest.
Gen. Than Shwe’s order, signed Monday, likewise reduced the sentences of Suu Kyi’s two female house companions to 18 months. Gen. Than Shwe said he reduced the sentence to “maintain peace and tranquillity” and because Ms. Suu Kyi was the daughter of Aung San, a revered hero who won Myanmar’s independence from Britain.
Ms. Suu Kyi’s trial has sparked international outrage and calls for her release and that of Myanmar’s more than 2,000 other political prisoners.
Mr. Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Missouri, was returned to Insein prison, the site of the trial, on Monday night after hospitalisation for epileptic seizures.
The court sentenced him to three years in prison for breaching Ms. Suu Kyi’s house arrest. Mr. Yettaw was also sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour for an immigration violation and to another one-year term with hard labour for swimming in a restricted zone.
It was not immediately clear if the prison terms would be served concurrently.
Mr. Yettaw, a devout Christian, earlier told his lawyer that he swam to Ms. Suu Kyi’s residence to warn her of an assassination attempt that he had seen in a vision.
Mr. Yettaw was hospitalised last Monday after suffering seizures. He reportedly suffers from epilepsy, diabetes and other health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder from his service in the U.S. military.