Myanmar trial update

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Anchor Lisa Mullins speaks with the BBC's Jonathan Head about the trial of Aung Sung Suu Kyi. The Burmese opposition leader is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest. The prosecution wrapped up its case today, and a verdict is expected in the next few weeks.

LISA MULLINS: Prosecutors wrapped up their case today in the trial of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. A verdict is expected within two or three weeks. The government of Myanmar charged Suu Kyi in May with violating the terms of her house arrest. That after an American man swam across a lake to her house and stayed for two days. The BBC's South Asia Correspondent Jonathan Head has been following the trial. Now, it doesn't sound like Aung San Suu Kyi invited this American man to her home. So why is the government of Burma Myanmar holding her responsible for what he did?

JONATHAN HEAD: Well, it was very hard to understand from a legal point of view, and her lawyers have argued very strongly that you can't possibly hold someone responsible for a man swimming to your home, when it's supposedly under very tight guard. In the interpretation that most western governments, indeed many governments in this region have come to is that, this was simple a roost to keep Aung San Suu Kyi locked up. Her maximum period of house arrest was about to expire. When this incident happened, it was almost like a gift in the hands, and they've used that to try her under a law which her lawyers argue shouldn't even exist anymore. It was part of an old constitution, but they are using that saying that you can be essentially charged and jailed for up to five year for violating the terms of your house arrest. Obviously to any outsider it seems completely nonsensical that somebody who's actually kept under lock and key could be blamed for somebody else breaking into their home.

LISA MULLINS: The person who broke into her home, an American named John Yetah [PH]. Did he take the stand, is he even there?

JONATHAN HEAD: Yes he is, in fact his testimony has amounted to the fact that, you know, he went to visit Aung San Suu Kyi because he had a dream that she was going to be assassinated. And, I mean, that tells you something of the kind of man he is. I mean, most extraordinary trip he made. He fashioned home made flippers out of pieces of wood to help himself get across the lake that banks onto her home. And we know now that in his previous visits here, he's a member of the Mormon Church. He delivered a Mormon bible and left it behind for Aung San Suu Kyi. But around that time, at the end of last year, he also spent a lot of time on the border between Burma and Thailand trying to make connections with dissident groups there, and they all describe him as a rather sad, rather deluded man. They're astonished that he's managed to precipitate this almost international crisis surrounding the Aung San Suu Kyi.

LISA MULLINS: The government of Myanmar Burma is worried about what the outside world is saying right now. We know that the secretary of state Clinton offered the prospect of better relations between the country and the United States, but she said it depended in part on the fate of Suu Kyi. Is that kind of pressure likely to influence what the judge decides in this case?

JONATHAN HEAD: I think there are two factors playing here. Undoubtedly the military underestimated the degree of international outrage that this maneuver they've used to keep Aung San Suu Kyi locked up has caused. And that fact that they've drawn the trial out, and they've allowed limited access to it, you can see them struggling to try and make the process look credible. At the same time, the generals do not like to be seen to be giving into pressure, and they're generally resentful of it. And so you get a lot of very sharp comment in the state media condemning what they see as international interference. At the same time, as the world is outraged by what's happening to Miss Suu Kyi, and she's spent, you know, 14 of the last 20 years under house arrest. I mean, dreadful conditions for a woman her integrity, and obvious popularity. There's also an awareness that the hard line approach, the sanctions based approach that Western governments have adopted has achieved absolutely nothing. So you're really getting double language coming from secretary of state, Clinton. I mean, she says Suu Kyi is critical. At the same time, the US and others are trying to find different ways of dealing with the generals, because they recognize they've got to prepare for the possibility that the current generation of generals will move on. And there may be people in the military who'll be easier to talk to, and they need to have some kind of avenues which simply don't exist at the moment, some channels of communication.

LISA MULLINS: Alright, the BBC's South Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head following the closing arguments in the trial of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Jonathan thank you.

JONATHAN HEAD: Thank you Lisa.