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Suu Kyi bears no grudge against intruding Missouri man

Saturday, May 30, 2009 | 5:32 p.m. CDT

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi harbors no ill feelings toward a Missouri man whose uninvited intrusion into her house may put her behind bars for five years, her lawyer said Saturday.

The country's military regime has accused her of violating the terms of her house arrest for sheltering John W. Yettaw after he swam to her lakeside residence in early May.

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"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she bore no grudge against Mr. Yettaw or his family," her defense lawyer Nyan Win told reporters after meeting her for 2 1/2 hours to prepare for the defense's final arguments. Daw is a term of respect for Myanmar women.

Some of Suu Kyi's supporters have called Yettaw, of Falcon, Mo., a fool or dupe for getting her into trouble.

Suu Kyi's health improves

Nyan Win said that Suu Kyi's health was improving following reports Friday that she needed urgent medical attention in the prison where she is being held.

A party statement said it was "gravely concerned" about the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's health, saying she cannot sleep well because she suffers from leg cramps.

Suu Kyi, 63, was treated for dehydration and low blood pressure in early May, a few days after Yettaw was arrested for sneaking into her home.

In her courtroom appearance Tuesday, Suu Kyi looked pale and weak.

Myanmar's Foreign Ministry said in a statement last Sunday that Suu Kyi, who is being held in a prison "guest house," is being "provided with adequate health care and she is in good health." The government earlier said a team of doctors was taking care of her.

Closing arguments in the trial were rescheduled from next Monday to Friday. The reason was not immediately known, and court authorities were not available for comment.

Yettaw: Sent by God to warn Suu Kyi

The trial has drawn outrage from the international community and Suu Kyi's local supporters, who worry that the military junta has found an excuse to keep her detained through next year's elections. Her party overwhelmingly won the last elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power by the military, which has run the country since 1962.

Suu Kyi has pleaded not guilty. Her defense team acknowledges that the 53-year-old Yettaw swam to her lakeside home, where he stayed for two days. But they argue it was the duty of government guards outside her closely watched house to prevent intruders.

Yettaw, who was taken to Suu Kyi's home Thursday by officials to re-enact his visit, told the court Wednesday he had been sent by God to warn Suu Kyi of his premonition that she would be assassinated by terrorists, Nyan Win said.

Yettaw also secretly went to Suu Kyi's home late last year but did not meet her. He testified that security personnel observed him during both visits but did not try to stop him, Nyan Win said.

Yettaw and two female party members who live with Suu Kyi face the same charge as Suu Kyi and have also pleaded not guilty.

The defense's main argument appears to be that the charge against Suu Kyi is unlawful. Her lawyers say it cites a law that refers to a 1974 constitution which was annulled when the military took power in 1988.

However, supporters fear Suu Kyi may be found guilty because the courts are under the influence of the ruling junta and usually mete out harsh punishments to political dissidents.

Nyan Win said Thursday night he was "very confident of victory if the trial is carried out according to law."

 


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