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Myanmar dissident’s bid for freedom denied

Aung San Suu Kyi has been held for 14 years. Aung San Suu Kyi has been held for 14 years.
Associated Press / February 27, 2010

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YANGON, Myanmar - The highest court in military-ruled Myanmar dismissed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s latest bid for freedom yesterday, turning down an appeal to end 14 years of house arrest, her lawyer said.

The Supreme Court’s decision had been expected since legal rulings in Myanmar rarely favor opposition activists, and the junta appears determined to keep Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, detained through elections planned later this year.

Defense lawyer Nyan Win told reporters he would launch a final “special appeal’’ before the court after determining why the recent appeal had been rejected. “The court order did not mention any reasons,’’ he said.

“Although the decision comes as no surprise, it is deeply disappointing,’’ said British Ambassador Andrew Heyn, who attended the court session along with diplomats from Australia, France and the United States. “We continue to believe that [Suu Kyi] should be released immediately along with the other 2,000 and more other prisoners of conscience.’’

French Ambassador Jean Pierre Lafosse said Suu Kyi was “the victim of a sham trial.’’

Suu Kyi’s lawyers appealed to the court last November after a lower court a month earlier upheld a decision to sentence her to 18 months of house arrest. She was convicted last August of violating the terms of her previous detention by briefly sheltering an American who swam uninvited to her lakeside home.

The 64-year-old pro-democracy icon was initially sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor in a trial that drew global condemnation, but that sentence was commuted to 18 months of house arrest by junta chief Senior General Than Shwe.

Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 years.