Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Burma to review Aung San Suu Kyi sentence

Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi in Seoul, South Korea
Ms Suu Kyi's detention means she cannot take part in elections next year

The Supreme Court in Burma has agreed to a request from the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to hear an appeal against her latest detention.

Miss Suu Kyi was found guilty in August of violating the terms of her house arrest because a US man swam uninvited to her lakeside home in Rangoon.

She was originally sentenced to three years in prison, which was later commuted to 18 months' house arrest.

She has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi was not in court to hear the case made on her behalf, nor were any journalists or other independent observers.

But her lawyers told reporters that their request for an appeal hearing had been granted, although no date has yet been set.

In theory the case rests on a legal technicality. The defence argues that the original conviction was unsound because it was based on provisions laid out in the 1974 constitution which is now defunct.

The prosecution says the laws still stand regardless of the changes to the constitution.


The decision to hear Miss Suu Kyi's appeal comes amid signs that the military government may be altering its approach in dealing with her in the run up to planned elections next year.

But diplomatic sources contacted by the BBC have cautioned against over-optimism, describing the Supreme Court decision as window-dressing, designed to give the impression of due legal process.

Aung San Suu Kyi has lodged several appeals over the years, yet still she remains in detention and the chances of that changing before the elections seem remote.

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