Myanmar court puts off Suu Kyi verdict till Aug 11

YANGON: A Myanmar court today postponed its verdict in the internationally condemned trial of Aung San Suu Kyi until August 11, adding to uncertainty over the ruling junta’s plans for the democracy icon.

Lawyers for the Nobel laureate said the judges announced they needed time to review the case, in which Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail on charges of violating her house arrest after an American swam to her lakeside home.

“I believe they really have serious legal problems,” her lawyer Nyan Win told reporters after the brief court hearing at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison.

“I do not want to say anything regarding politics. But could it be because of pressure from the the UN or others? We do not know exactly but there might be something,” he added. The 64-year-old Suu Kyi had thanked diplomats for attending the hearing and told them that the outcome of the case “mainly depends on the rule of law,” said Nyan Win, who is also the spokesman for her National League for Democracy.

Critics have accused Myanmar’s iron-fisted generals of using the intrusion by US national John Yettaw as an excuse to keep the opposition leader locked up during elections that are due in 2010.

But the regime has appeared increasingly rattled by international outrage over the case, and despite widespread fears of a guilty verdict diplomats have speculated that the court may opt for a lesser sentence of house arrest.Suu Kyi’s international legal counsel, Jared Genser, said the latest postponement in the two-and-a-half-month trial was another attempt by the military government to deflect foreign criticism.

“It is in some ways a smart move — push off the verdict until the middle of August when numerous government and United Nations officials around the world will be on vacation,” Genser said in a statement. “But it remains to be seen whether this ploy will work or if anticipation will be heightened in the run-up to the issuance of the verdict.”

Riot police surrounded the prison on Friday and police trucks patrolled the city following warnings in the junta-controlled state media that protests against a guilty verdict would not be tolerated.