x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Suu Kyi lawyers launch bid for witnesses

Lawyers for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi launch a bid in Myanmar's top court to reinstate two defence witnesses in her trial.

Lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi have launched a bid in Myanmar's top court to reinstate two defence witnesses in her trial, as UN experts poured fresh scorn on the ruling junta's case against her. The Nobel laureate, who turns 64 on Friday, is being held at Yangon's notorious Insein prison on charges of breaching the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam to her lakeside house in May. The Supreme Court heard submissions from her legal team arguing that it should allow them to formally appeal against an earlier ban on the two witnesses, who are both senior members of her party.

Kyi Win, the main lawyer for Aung San Suu Kyi, said the court was not expected to announce a decision until this evening "We hope our arguments for the two witnesses will be accepted. Our expectations are always as high as possible," Kyi Win told reporters. "The usual procedure is that in the evening the high court posts the decision, so we have to wait until the evening to know whether they will accept or reject our application," he added.

Nyan Win, the spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD) and also a member of the legal team, said the court heard arguments for about 45 minutes. Security was tight around the Supreme Court with at least 10 police lorries patrolling the area and plainclothes officers also on duty, witnesses said. The prison court conducting the trial last month barred all but one of her four defence witnesses but a separate court in Yangon earlier this month ruled that Aung San Suu Kyi could call one more person to testify.

The two still-barred witnesses who are the subject of today's hearing are Win Tin, a journalist and Myanmar's longest-serving political prisoner until his release in September, and detained deputy NLD leader Tin Oo. Aung San Suu Kyi's main trial has been adjourned until June 26. She faces up to five years in jail if convicted, as does American John Yettaw, who used a pair of homemade flippers to swim across a lake to her house.