Journalists allowed for Kyi trial

YANGON: Journalists in Myanmar were unexpectedly allowed to enter the courtroom Tuesday ahead of a scheduled verdict in pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's highly watched trial.

The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is charged with violating the terms of her lengthy house arrest when an American intruder swam across a lake and spent two nights at her home in early May. She faces up to five years in prison.

Tuesday's decision to admit journalists to the courtroom came minutes before the hearing was due to begin. Diplomats were also present at the court inside Yangon's closely guarded Insein prison.

Journalists have been allowed to cover proceedings on only two prior occasions since the trial started May 18.

Suu Kyi's trial has drawn international condemnation, with analysts and diplomats anticipating a guilty verdict.

Earlier, the American, John Yettaw, who is also on trial, was taken back to Insein after a week in a hospital, making it more likely the court would announce a verdict Tuesday as scheduled, a defense lawyer and government official said.

Suu Kyi's lawyer, Nyan Win, said Monday that he had expected the rulings to be delayed again because of Yettaw's hospitalization. But a government official said he was discharged from Yangon General Hospital on Monday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

"It is now very likely that the court will announce the judgment," said Nyan Win. "I am hopeful that she will be acquitted."

A verdict had been scheduled for last Friday, but judges said they needed more time to sort through legal issues and it was rescheduled for Tuesday.

Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Missouri, is charged as an abettor in violating her detention and could also be imprisoned for five years.

He was hospitalized 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.

National police Chief Khin Yi told the media last week that Yettaw was looked after by a team of seven medical doctors but declined to comment on his condition.

The trial of Suu Kyi, who has been detained for about 14 of the last 20 years, has refocused international outrage on Myanmar, which has been ruled by its military since 1962.

The regime in recent days has beefed up security in Yangon, claiming that domestic and foreign opposition groups were planning attacks to coincide with the Suu Kyi trial.