11/11/2010, 00.00
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Supreme Court rejects appeal to overturn Aung San Suu Kyi’s conviction

Court upholds her 18-month sentence of house arrest, which ends this Friday. Opposition officials want guarantees about the Nobel prize winner’s safety. Her son Aris might be allowed to meet his mother in Yangon after a ten-year separation.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers, asking that her 18-month house arrest be overturned. This is the third time the request is turned down; however, the lawyers are optimistic that her release is imminent since her sentence ends this Friday. In a letter to the authorities, National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders asked for specific details concerning her release in order to guarantee her safety.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 65, should be free a week since the 7 November elections won by parties close to the junta that has ruled the country for the past 20 years. However, allegations of vote rigging, especially in relation to advance voting in ridings where opposition candidates were poised to win, are mounting. This confirms the view expressed by many international observers and Western governments that the poll was a “farce”.

Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi’s youngest son, Kim Aris, has apparently been granted an entry visa, enabling him to see his mother for the first time in ten years. Aris, a resident of Great Britain, had repeatedly applied for a visa to visit his Noble Prize winning mother, but to little avail, so far.

Although she has not violated any law, Ms Aung San has been under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years. Her first and only formal conviction came in August of last year when she received an 18-month sentence of house arrest for hosting a US national who had stealthily entered her house.

From the start, the incident left so many questions unanswered that many believe it was a pretext used by the military to keep Ms Aung San under their control.

Twice before, Myanmar’s highest court had rejected her lawyers’ application to throw out the original conviction. In the latest case, the Special Appeal Court in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital, turned down the request without reason or rhyme. However, this ruling should not affect the normal course of her sentence, which expires two days from now.

“She has to be freed as there is no law under which her detention can be extended,” said Nyan Win, one of Aung San’s lawyers.

For their part, NLD officials want guarantees to ensure her safety once she is free to come and go.

Suu Kyi has said on several occasions that she would not accept to be released if there were any conditions attached to her freedom. In the past, the military refused to let her travel out of Yangon, fearing her popularity could encourage dissent across the country.

Ms Aung San has confirmed that once she is free she would help her party investigate alleged fraud in the 7 November election.

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