Suu Kyi proclaims innocence
YANGON: Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed her innocence in front of a prison tribunal Friday as the prosecution wrapped up its case on the fifth day of her trial.
The opposition figurehead, who is charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam in homemade flippers to her lakeside home, responded to the judge who asked if she was guilty of the charge.
"I have no guilt as I didn't commit any crime," her lawyer and spokesman Nyan Win reported Aung San Suu Kyi as saying.
He said the prosecution then closed its case after hearing from 23 witnesses, most of them policemen. The defence was due to begin on Monday after a weekend recess, Nyan Win said.
He said Aung San Suu Kyi privately told her defence team that she blamed a failure of security at her compound for the visit by John Yettaw, who is also on trial along with the two female aides who live with her.
Yettaw turned up at the crumbling lakeside compound earlier this month and stayed two days with the three women after complaining of feeling unwell.
"She accepted this person for two reasons -- the first is humanitarian and the second is that politically she doesn't want to cause difficulties for any other people," Nyan Win said.
Yettaw, 53, was described as "a fool" and "an adventurer" by another of Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers, Kyi Win, ahead of the trial.
The American, who according to a police report first visited Aung San Suu Kyi's house on November 30 and left a book entitled "Book of Mormon" but did not meet her, also pleaded his innocence on Friday, according to the lawyer.
"He (Yettaw) told the judge, 'I had a dream that Aung San Suu Kyi would be assassinated so I came to warn her, so I am not guilty'," Nyan Win said.
Yettaw also defended himself on a charge of illegally swimming in the lake to reach Aung San Suu Kyi's home.
Myanmar's junta earlier Friday went on the diplomatic offensive over the trial, blaming "anti-government elements" for Yettaw's visit and alleging he was a "secret agent or her boyfriend".
The rare comments followed widespread international condemnation of the trial and after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Wednesday that he would visit Myanmar "as soon as possible" to discuss the case with leader Than Shwe.
The UN Security Council on Friday reiterated in a statement its appeal for the release of political prisoners in Myanmar and for talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.
The New Light of Myanmar reported Foreign Minister Nyan Win as telling his Japanese counterpart Hirofumi Nakasone in a phone call on Monday that the bizarre incident had been set up by anti-junta forces.
"Minister U Nyan Win expressed his opinion that... it was likely that this incident was timely trumped up, to intensify international pressure on Myanmar, by internal and external anti-government elements," the New Light said.
The paper said the minister believed the controversy had been timed to coincide with a review of policy towards Myanmar, notably by the United States.
A Western diplomat in Yangon, who would not be named, said the state media report "seems to reveal some kind of disarray and embarrassment" and said the government was reacting to events on a day-to-day basis with no clear strategy.
The trial was opened for one day on Wednesday to diplomats and a few journalists, but returned to a closed-door session on Thursday.
The regime has kept the Nobel Peace Prize winner in detention for 13 of the past 19 years since her National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in 1990 polls.
It filed the charges against her just weeks before a May 27 deadline when her latest six-year spell of detention was due to expire.
Critics say the junta wants to keep her locked up ahead of elections planned for next year under a controversial "roadmap to democracy" that enshrines a role for the military in government.
The military has ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since 1962.