Lawyers denied access to Suu Kyi

YANGON: The legal team of Myanmar's jailed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was denied access to the 64-year-old Nobel laureate on Wednesday, two days before her trial resumes for final arguments, her lawyer said.

Authorities in the military-ruled country denied permission for Suu Kyi's lawyers to meet her to finalise the draft of their 23-page closing argument, said Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi's defence lawyers as well as spokesman for her party.

"This (refusal by authorities) shows that the judicial system in the country is very weak," said Nyan Win. "We need to see our clients to finalise the draft, and it was very bad that the right has been denied." Suu Kyi is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by harbouring an uninvited American man who swam secretly to her lakeside home and stayed for two days. She is being detained at Myanmar's notorious Insein Prison.

The opposition leader, who was been under house arrest for nearly 14 of the last 20 years, faces a possible five-year prison term.

The refusal to allow legal access to Suu Kyi comes as Asian, U.S., and European ministers - including the top diplomat from Myanmar - meet in neighbouring Thailand where the military regime's human rights record is in the spotlight.

The trial has drawn condemnation from the international community and Suu Kyi's local supporters, who worry the ruling junta has found an excuse to keep her detained through elections planned for next year. She is widely expected to be found guilty when the verdict is delivered, expected sometime next month.

The final arguments will be presented Friday.

Nyan Win said the lawyers last met Suu Kyi last Friday to discuss the closing argument.

Also on trial, and facing the same charges as Suu Kyi, are two women members of her party who were her sole companions under house arrest. The American, John Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Missouri, is charged with trespassing.

The mostly closed-door trial started May 18. The court had approved 23 prosecution witnesses, of which 14 took the stand. Only two out of four defence witnesses were allowed to testify.

The last defence witness Khin Moe Moe testified on July 10, arguing that Suu Kyi was innocent because the military government charged her under a law that cites a constitution abolished two decades ago.

The defence has not contested the basic facts of the case, but they also assert that the security guards who ensure Suu Kyi remains inside her compound should also be held responsible for any intrusion on her property.

Yettaw has pleaded not guilty and explained in court that he had a dream that Suu Kyi would be assassinated and he had gone to warn her. Family and friends have said he was working on a book and wished to interview her.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.

Suu Kyi's opposition party won national elections in 1990, but Myanmar's generals refused to relinquish power.