Page last updated at 19:57 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 20:57 UK

Burma trial hears final arguments

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

The prosecution in the military government's trial of the Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has delivered its closing arguments.

Ms Suu Kyi faces five years in prison if she is convicted of having violated her house arrest when an American man swam to her lakeside home uninvited.

Her lawyers, who are scheduled to deliver a response on Tuesday, say they expect a verdict in two to three weeks.

Unusually, diplomats were allowed into the court for part of Monday.

Lawyers also read closing arguments for the other defendants, two of Ms Suu Kyi's housemaids and John Yettaw, the American intruder.

Poll ploy?

Ms Suu Kyi's lawyer, Nyan Win, said a verdict could take as long as two or three weeks.

"We have to give our reply tomorrow, we have to give further arguments," he said after Monday's hearing.

"I do not think the court will give a verdict."

Poster of Aung San Suu Kyi in a cage, in a protest in Tokyo

He also said the defence team would ask to call a witness from the foreign ministry who allegedly stated that Ms Suu Kyi was detained "for her own security"

The trial has been held mostly behind closed doors, but diplomats from the United States, Singapore, Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Malaysia were allowed to attend the session on Monday morning, one of the diplomats told reporters.

Authorities only allowed a US consul to attend the afternoon session, because a US citizen was standing trial.

Hundreds of NLD members and supporters of Ms Suu Kyi rallied outside Insein Prison where she has been held since May. About 10 truckloads of security personnel were seen in the area.

Ms Suu Kyi, 64, has spent nearly 14 of the last 20 years in detention, much of it at her Rangoon home.

Polls are planned by the military government for some time next year. Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last elections in 1988 but was never allowed to take power.

On Monday, international human rights group Amnesty International named Ms Suu Kyi as an "Ambassador of Conscience" - its highest honour - for her efforts to promote democracy.

The trial, which had been expected to wrap up in days when it started, has dragged on for more than two months.

Prosecutors argue that Aung San Suu Kyi must be held responsible for the midnight swim to her home by the American well-wisher, John Yettaw, in early May.

Her lawyers have argued that the law she has been charged under is part of a constitution abolished 25 years ago.

In any case, they say, she cannot be responsible for the incident as she was living under tightly-guarded house arrest at the time.

BBC South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says the fact that some defence witnesses and foreign observers have been allowed shows that the government belatedly recognised the anger stirred up around the world by trying Ms Suu Kyi on such bizarre charges.

But, our correspondent adds, all the indications are that she will still be found guilty. Burma's ruling generals fear her popularity, and do not want her to play any role in next year's election.

Police vehicles parked near Insein Prison, Burma, 10 July
Riot police have closely guarded the courtroom in a Rangoon prison

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