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Suu Kyi trial briefly opened to diplomats

May 21, 2009|Associated Press

YANGON, MYANMAR — The Myanmar government went back to barring reporters and diplomats from Aung San Suu Kyi's trial today, after briefly allowing them inside the courtroom for the first time a day earlier, an official said.

It was unclear whether the junta would reopen the proceedings in coming days. A government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists told the Associated Press that reporters and diplomats would be barred today.

Earlier, Democracy activist Suu Kyi had thanked diplomats for their support Wednesday after Myanmar's military government agreed to allow them and several journalists to attend her trial.

Those who saw Suu Kyi said she seemed "spirited" and in good health, and one person described her courtroom appearance as "awe inspiring."

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the last 19 years, is accused of violating the terms of her house arrest after an American man stayed at her lakeside home without official permission. The offense is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment.

Critics say the charge of hosting an uninvited foreign intruder is bizarre and part of a plot by the military regime to keep Suu Kyi, 63, locked up during elections scheduled for next year.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last election, in 1990, by a landslide, but the military refused to allow the party to take power.

When the trial opened Monday, all outsiders were barred except for one U.S. diplomat who was allowed in because of the nationality of the intruder, who is also a defendant.

Wednesday's decision to let 29 foreign diplomats and 10 journalists into the hearings came as a surprise.

Members of Suu Kyi's party said they were still seeking to have the proceedings opened to the public.

Diplomats at the hearing said Suu Kyi joked that she might be charged under a security law if she spoke to diplomats without the court's consent, then greeted them briefly and told them that she hoped to "meet you all in better days."

After the hearing, Suu Kyi was allowed to meet representatives of the Russian, Thai and Singapore embassies at a guest house in the prison compound where she is being held.

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