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Suu Kyi declared guilty, three year sentence commuted to 18 months' house arrest

Rangoon (Myanmar), Tue, 11 Aug 2009 ANI

Rangoon (Myanmar), Aug.11 (ANI): Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years' jail and hard labour by a court today, but the head of the ruling military junta commuted the punishment to 18 months' house arrest.


The court sentenced Suu Kyi on charges of breaching the terms of her house arrest after a bizarre incident in which an American man, John Yettaw, 54, swam to her lakeside house in May this year.


The BBC and other foreign news agencies quoted Burmese Home Minister General Maung Oo, as saying outside the court that military ruler Than Shwe had signed a special order suspending the sentence and ordered that Suu Kyi should spend 18 months under house arrest.


Yettaw was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and hard labour. It includes three years for breaching security laws, three years for immigration violations and one year for a municipal charge of illegal swimming.


Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, was convicted of violating state security laws by allowing a US national into her lakeside home after he swam there.


Suu Kyi has spent nearly 14 of the past 20 years in detention, and had denied the charge but said she expected to be convicted.


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "saddened and angry" by the verdict and described the trial as a "sham".


He said it was "a purely political sentence" designed to prevent her from taking part in next year's planned elections.


Journalists had unexpectedly been allowed to enter the courtroom in Rangoon's Insein prison shortly before the sentence was announced.


Following the reading of Suu Kyi's sentence there was a five-minute recess before the country's home minister entered the courtroom and read out a special order from Burma's military ruler Than Shwe.


There was tight security around the prison, with security forces sealing off the area.


The trial has brought international condemnation, with critics accusing Burma's military government of trying to keep Suu Kyi out of the 2010 elections.


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


Yettaw is believed to have epilepsy, diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder and has been treated at a Rangoon hospital.


Reports say he was discharged from hospital on Monday night after a week of treatment for epileptic seizures.(ANI)


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