Burma Court Charges U.S. Citizen With Forgery

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A special court Friday formally charged a Burma-born American, initially accused of attempting to foment rebellion against the country's military rulers, for forgery and violation of the foreign currency act, his lawyer said.

In another court case, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear final arguments to decide whether to review the most recent extension of the house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin, a U.S. citizen, was charged with forgery for allegedly making up a national identity card, which carries maximum 7-year prison term. He was also charged with violating the currency act, that could put him in prison for another three years, said his lawyer Nyan Win.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin, who is also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, was arrested Sept. 3 when he arrived at Yangon airport and accused of trying to stir up anti-government protests.

The lawyer said his client ended a 12-day hunger strike on Dec. 15 and "looked well and was in good spirits."

Kyaw Zaw Lwin's mother is serving a five-year prison term for political activities and his sister was sentenced to 65 years in prison for her role in pro-democracy protests in 2007.

The lawyer for Suu Kyi, also Nyan Win, said the Supreme Court posted an announcement on its notice board setting Jan. 18 as the date to hear final argumentd in her latest case.

Suu Kyi's lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court in November after a lower court upheld a decision to sentence her to 18 months of house arrest. She had been convicted in August last year of violating her previous term by briefly sheltering an American intruder who swam uninvited to her lakeside home.

The legal team argued that her house arrest extension was unlawful as it was based on provisions from the 1974 Constitution that was no longer in existence, said Nyan Win.

"We are optimistic that the Supreme Court will review the Divisional Court decision as we have presented strong legal points," he said.

The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate was initially sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor, but that sentence was commuted to 18 months of house arrest by junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe.

Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years.

Suu Kyi's sentence ensures she cannot participate in Burma's first elections in two decades that are scheduled for next year. Her party swept the last elections in 1990, but the results were never honored by the military, which has ruled the country since 1962.