Burma court accepts case against Suu Kyi
RANGOON, Burma - Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi entered a not-guilty plea yesterday to charges that she violated the terms of her house arrest, as indications mounted that she will be convicted and imprisoned for sheltering an uninvited American visitor.
Her plea was made after the special court trying her agreed to accept the charges and proceed with her trial, which could lead to her being sentenced to five years in prison.
The court's action came after the military regime's foreign minister claimed the foreign intruder was part of an antigovernment plot, and roadblocks near Suu Kyi's home were removed, suggesting she may not be returning anytime soon.
Burma's courts operate under the ruling military, and almost always deal harshly with political dissidents. On Wednesday, Ambassador Mark Canning of Britain, reflecting the widespread assumption that Suu Kyi - a Nobel Peace Prize recipient - will be found guilty, described the trial as "a story where the conclusion is already scripted."
International criticism of the case against Suu Kyi has been strong.
The ruling junta has stood firm for two decades against international pressure to reach an accommodation with the country's pro-democracy movement.
Human rights groups estimate more than 2,100 political prisoners are being held.
After testimony had finished for the day at the trial in Insein prison, presiding judge Thaung Nyunt declared the court accepted the charge that Suu Kyi, 63, had violated the terms of her house arrest, according to her lawyer, Nyan Win. She has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years, including the last six.