Image: Suu Kyi photos shown at U2 concert
Niall Carson  /  AP
Images of Aung San Suu Kyi are shown during a U2 concert in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday. The concert was part of a tribute by Amnesty International, which also awarded her its highest human rights award.
updated 7/28/2009 2:05:33 PM ET 2009-07-28T18:05:33

The defense team for Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivered its final arguments Tuesday, closing the case days ahead of a verdict the Nobel laureate softly said will be "painfully obvious."

The high-profile trial that began in May has drawn international condemnation from rights activists, world leaders and celebrities who have called for her immediate release. But neither outside pressure nor the possibility of closer ties with the West have deterred the ruling junta, who appeared determined to find her guilty and keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year.

Judge Thaung Nyunt said the court will make its ruling on Friday, according to defense attorney Nyan Win. The lawyer said he preferred not to speculate on the outcome, but said "I have never seen any defendant in a political case being set free," without directly calling the case politically motivated.

The quick verdict surprised Suu Kyi's lawyers because a ruling wasn't expected until next month. Details on why the court set the earlier date were not immediately available.

5-year term possible
The detained 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate faces a possible five years in prison on charges that she violated the terms of her house arrest by harboring an uninvited American man — John William Yettaw — who swam to her lakeside home and stayed for two days.

Diplomats from the U.S., Japan, Singapore and Thailand were allowed to attend the last day of the trial Tuesday, one of the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity citing embassy protocol.

Suu Kyi — who has been in detention for 14 of the past 20 years — thanked the diplomats during the hearing "for trying to promote a just outcome" but told them she was not optimistic.

"I'm afraid the verdict will be painfully obvious," Suu Kyi said, according to several diplomats who heard her comments in court.

London-based Amnesty International, in a last-minute bid to deter the junta from imposing any harsh new punishments on Suu Kyi, gave her its highest honor Monday for her defense of human rights.

U2's Bono publicly announced the award — Amnesty's Ambassador of Conscience Award — before 80,000 cheering fans at a concert Monday in Dublin. It underscored the widespread international support for her struggle to bring democracy to the military-ruled country.

Suu Kyi's defense team delivered its final arguments in the trial Tuesday, a day after the prosecution closed its case.

Most defense witnesses rejected
But the defense lost its bid to put a foreign ministry official on the stand, Nyan Win said, adding that the court claimed his testimony was "not important." The court had rejected all but two of the defense's witnesses.

Her lawyers — who have not contested the facts of the case — have argued all along that the law used by authorities against Suu Kyi is invalid because it applies to a constitution abolished two decades ago. They also say that government guards stationed outside Suu Kyi's compound should be held responsible for any intrusion in her property.

Suu Kyi emerged as the country's democracy icon during a popular uprising in 1988, which was brutally suppressed by the military that has ruled the country since 1962. Her party won national elections in 1990, but Myanmar's generals refused to relinquish power.

Yettaw, meanwhile, is charged as an abettor in violating the terms of Suu Kyi's house arrest and could also be sent to prison for five years. He has pleaded not guilty, and explained in court he went to warn Suu Kyi after having a dream she would be assassinated.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a junta mouthpiece, claimed Tuesday that Yettaw "illegally intruded" into Suu Kyi's home and appeared to be plotting an escape for her.

"He even left two chadors and dark sunglasses to (serve as a) disguise," the editorial said, referring to cloaks worn by women in the Middle East. "Was it aimed at taking her out of the house? There are many points to ponder."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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