Myanmar bars lawyer from Suu Kyi trial

YANGON: Myanmar’s military rulers barred a prominent lawyer who applied to defend pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in her upcoming trial, the attorney said today.

Suu Kyi, who was taken from her home on Thursday by police, faces a possible five-year prison term for allegedly violating terms of her house arrest by sheltering an American man who swam across a lake to her home.

Her latest arrest has sparked a storm of international appeals to Myanmar’s junta to free the 63-year-old Nobel

Peace Prize winner and to restore democracy in the country, which has been under military rule since 1962.

Despite mounting international protests, the junta appears ready to begin the trial on Monday at Insein Prison, where Suu Kyi is being held along with two assistants who have lived with her.

Lawyer Aung Thein said today that he was dismissed from the country’s Bar Council on Friday, a day after he applied to represent Suu Kyi. He has defended political activists in the past and was earlier jailed for four months for contempt of court.

Suu Kyi was charged on Thursday with violating the terms of her house arrest after being visited by American John William Yettaw, 53, who also faces trial.

Suu Kyi has already spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention without trial for her non-violent promotion of democracy. She had been scheduled to be freed on May 27 after six consecutive years of house arrest but now faces up to five years in prison if convicted, according to one of her lawyers, Hla Myo Myint.

He and another lawyer represented her at the arraignment, but Suu Kyi had asked for three other defence lawyers, including Aung Thein.

President Barack Obama extended for another year a state of emergency regarding Myanmar that maintains sanctions against the military-run country.