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Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 09:18 UK

Verdict delayed in Suu Kyi trial

Barriers near Insein prison in Rangoon, where Aung San Suu Kyi is held and being tried - 28 July 2009
Security has been tight in Rangoon in anticipation of protests

A court in Burma has postponed delivering its verdict in the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The court had been due to rule on the case on Friday, but the verdict has now been delayed until 11 August.

The judges said they needed more time to review the case, according to Western diplomats in Rangoon.

Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of breaching the terms of her house arrest by allowing an uninvited American to stay in her home.

Despite international calls for her release, a guilty verdict has been widely expected.

Analysts suggest that the delay may signal a belated recognition on the part of the government at the level of anger over Ms Suu Kyi's prosecution.

Deflecting criticism?

Riot police surrounded the prison on Friday, following warnings in the local media that any protests against a guilty verdict would not be tolerated.

All roads leading to Insein prison - where the trial is being held - were blocked by barbed-wire barricades.

Aung San Suu Kyi meets Thai, Singapore and Russian diplomats, 20 May

But in the event, the streets remained quiet as news got out of the postponement.

The trial had initially been expected to last a few days, but has now dragged on for more than two months.

Analysts say the Burmese junta may use this trial to make sure the popular pro-democracy leader is still in detention during elections planned for early next year.

Her term in house arrest was about to come to an end when she was arrested on this latest charge.

Ms Suu Kyi's international legal counsel, Jared Genser, said the delay in the verdict was an attempt by the junta to deflect international criticism.

"It is in some ways a smart move - push off the verdict until the middle of August when numerous government and United Nations officials around the world will be on vacation," he told the French news agency AFP.

"But it remains to be seen whether this ploy will work or if anticipation will be heightened in the run-up to the issuance of the verdict."

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Protests have been held demanding Aung San Suu Kyi's release

'Vision warning'

Ms Suu Kyi faces five years in jail if she is convicted of violating the terms of her house arrest.

She is accused of allowing American well-wisher John Yettaw to stay at her lakeside home in Rangoon after he swam there.

Mr Yettaw has said he swam to her home to warn her he had a vision that she would be assassinated.

Lawyers for Ms Suu Kyi have not disputed the events, but say she had no control over the situation and that the guards around her home should have kept Mr Yettaw away.

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

Her Burmese lawyer, Nyan Win, said Ms Suu Kyi was "preparing for the worst", stockpiling books and medicines in anticipation of a long prison sentence.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.

The 64-year-old has spent nearly 14 of the last 20 years in detention, much of it at her Rangoon home.



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