World News

Myanmar's Suu Kyi appeals sentence again

YANGON (Reuters) - Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has lodged an appeal with Myanmar’s top court, seeking to overturn a guilty verdict for her breach of a draconian security law last year, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

An activist holds a poster of Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok in this September 27, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/Files

Her legal team submitted the appeal on Monday to a special three-judge panel of the Supreme Court and hopes to have the 18-month extension to her house arrest term scrapped on the grounds that the August 11 verdict was unlawful.

“This is our last opportunity to appeal,” lawyer Nyann Win told reporters. “She’s innocent. We may not get the verdict we want, but it’s important that we maintain the focus of the international community.”

Lawyers for Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 of the last 21 years in detention because of her fight for democracy in the army-ruled country, say the law protecting the country against “subversive elements” is obsolete.

The legislation formed part of the 1974 constitution but was omitted from the latest charter, promulgated in 2008.

The ruling enraged the international community, which accused the ruling generals of using trumped-up charges to sideline Suu Kyi, the sole symbol of Myanmar’s democratic struggle, from this year’s elections.

The court ruled Suu Kyi breached her house arrest conditions by harbouring American intruder John Yettaw for two days after he swam to her lakeside home to tell her he had been sent by god to protect her from “terrorists.”

Yettaw was sentenced to seven years’ hard labour but was deported five days later after a visit by U.S. Senator Jim Webb, one of the few Westerners who have successfully engaged with the reclusive generals.

Even if the court agrees to hear her appeal, it is unlikely Suu Kyi will be freed because of her popularity and mesmerising influence on the Burmese people.

Regardless of the appeal, Suu Kyi is unable to run in the election. Her National League for Democracy party is boycotting the vote and even if she were to sign up to a new party, her criminal record and marriage to a foreigner prevent her from running.

Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Jeremy Laurence