Burmese Court Allows Suu Kyi Final Witness Appeal

Burma's highest court said Wednesday it will allow a final appeal by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's defense lawyers for the reinstatement of two key witnesses at her trial, her lawyer said.

Defense lawyer Nyan Win called the ruling "good news" and said the High Court was expected to set a date for the appeal on Friday.

Four truckloads of armed riot police circled the court, and two trucks mounted with machine guns and filled with riot police were parked outside. Tight security is standard during hearings in the trial.

Suu Kyi is charged with having violated the terms of her house arrest when an uninvited American man swam secretly to her closely guarded lakeside home last month and stayed two days.

The trial has drawn outrage from the international community and from Suu Kyi's local supporters, who say the military government is using the bizarre incident as an excuse to keep the Nobel Peace Prize laureate detained through next year's elections.

Suu Kyi's trial, which started May 18, has been delayed to allow appeals for more defense witnesses. Nyan Win said the High Court appeal would cause further delays to the trial, which was scheduled to resume June 26.

The District Court trying Suu Kyi initially allowed only one of four defense witnesses to take the stand. On appeal, the Yangon (Rangoon) Divisional Court ruled last week that a second witness could be heard. Two senior members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party — Tin Oo and Win Tin — remain barred from giving testimony.

It is widely expected that Suu Kyi will be found guilty. Courts in Burma are known for handing out harsh sentences to political dissidents.

If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison.

Suu Kyi, who has been detained for more than 13 of the last 19 years, will spend her 64th birthday Friday in Rangoon's Insein prison, where she was transferred from house arrest on May 14.