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Verdict for Burma’s Suu Kyi looms

By Associated Press
July 29, 2009

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RANGOON, Burma - The defense team for Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivered its final arguments yesterday, closing the case days ahead of a verdict the Nobel laureate softly said will be “painfully obvious.’’

The trial that began in May has drawn global condemnation from rights activists, world leaders, and celebrities who have called for her immediate release. But neither outside pressure nor the possibility of closer ties with the West have deterred the ruling junta, who appeared determined to find her guilty and keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year.

Judge Thaung Nyunt said the court will make its ruling Friday, according to defense attorney Nyan Win. The lawyer said he preferred not to speculate on the outcome, but said “I have never seen any defendant in a political case being set free,’’ without directly calling the case politically motivated.

The quick verdict surprised Suu Kyi’s lawyers because a ruling wasn’t expected until next month. Details were not immediately available.

The detained 64-year-old Nobel Peace laureate faces a possible five years in prison on charges that she violated the terms of her house arrest by harboring an uninvited American man - John William Yettaw - who swam to her lakeside home and stayed for two days.

Her lawyers have argued the law used by authorities against Suu Kyi is invalid because it applies to a constitution abolished two decades ago.