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Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 15:05 UK

Burma trial hears defence witness

Police vehicles parked near Insein Prison, Burma, 10 July
Riot police lorries were parked near the trial venue

One of only two defence witnesses allowed in the trial of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has testified in court.

Dozens of Ms Suu Kyi's supporters gathered outside Insein Prison near Rangoon, where she is being tried for breaking the terms of her house arrest.

The witness, lawyer Khin Moe Moe, argued that the charges against the defendant were illegal.

The court will reconvene in two weeks' time to hear final arguments.

I have known her for 20 years and, based on that and legal points, I made my testimony,
Khin Moe Moe,
defence witness

Ms Suu Kyi is accused of breaking the terms of her house arrest after a man, a US citizen, swam across a lake to her home in Rangoon.

Governments around the world have called for the release of the veteran National League for Democracy (NLD) leader.

But a guilty verdict and further detention are widely expected.

'On the defensive'

Khin Moe Moe argued that Ms Suu Kyi was being tried under the 1974 constitution, which was axed in 1988.

Poster of Aung San Suu Kyi in Seoul, South Korea - 21/6/2009
Burma's rulers have refused to heed global calls for Ms Suu Kyi's release

"I have known her for 20 years and, based on that and legal points, I made my testimony," she told reporters. "She violated no laws."

The witness added that the NLD leader, whose trial is mostly being held behind closed doors, looked "healthy and alert".

One of Ms Suu Kyi's lawyers, Nyan Win, said the prosecution had been put "on the defensive".

Friday's proceedings were the first in six weeks.

Khin Moe Moe was initially banned from testifying but this was later overturned, making her one of just two defence witnesses to the prosecution's 22.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was refused permission by Burma's military rulers to meet Ms Suu Kyi last week.

Having seen off Mr Ban last week without making any significant concessions, Burma's military rulers can now get on with the business of neutralising their main political opponent, says the BBC's Jonathan Head, in Bangkok.

A guilty verdict would mean Ms Suu Kyi and her party will play no role in the election planned by the military government next year - so that election is unlikely to be recognised as legitimate by much of the world, says our correspondent.

But the thinking of the senior generals shut off in their fortress-like capital of Nay Pyi Taw is hard to fathom - there is always the possibility of a surprise decision, our correspondent adds.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent nearly 14 of the last 20 years in detention, much of it at her Rangoon home.



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