Burmese Activist Suu Kyi Needs Urgent Medical Aid, Her Party Says

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Associated Press
Saturday, May 30, 2009

RANGOON, Burma, May 29 -- Detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi urgently needs medical attention in the Rangoon prison where she is being held, her party said Friday. Meanwhile, closing arguments in her trial were delayed until the end of next week.

The National League for Democracy said in a statement that it is "gravely concerned" about the Nobel Peace laureate's health, adding that she is unable to 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 an American intruder was arrested for sneaking into her home. The military government has accused her of violating the terms of her house arrest for harboring the American. If she is found guilty, she could spend as much as five years in prison.

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

Burma's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday that Suu Kyi, who is being held in a prison "guesthouse," is being "provided with adequate health care and . . . is in good health."

The government had said earlier that a team of doctors was taking care of her.

Closing arguments in the trial were moved from this coming Monday to Friday, said Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi's attorneys. The reason was not immediately known, and court authorities were not available for comment.

The trial has drawn outrage from the international community and from 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 prevented from taking power by the military, which has run the country since 1962.

Suu Kyi has pleaded not guilty to the latest charge against her. Her defense team acknowledges that 53-year-old John W. Yettaw, of Falcon, Mo., swam to her lakeside home, where he stayed overnight. But they argue that 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 reenact 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 attorneys say it cites a law that refers to the 1974 constitution, which was annulled when the ruling junta took power in 1988.

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

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


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