POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 21, 2010
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s highest court has agreed to hear a final appeal to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, her lawyer said Thursday, pressing forward with the case despite her scheduled release in less than a month.
“We believe that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be released on Nov. 13, but we are pursuing this legal battle to prove her innocence,” lawyer Nyan Win told reporters.
He said the High Court posted an announcement Wednesday night that it would hear the special appeal on behalf of Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past 15 years under house arrest.
Nyan Win said lawyers will have to present their argument before the Special Appellate Bench, a multi-judge panel in the remote administrative capital of Naypyitaw, on a date that has not yet been set. The lawyer could not say when the verdict would be handed down, but it could even come after the pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi is released.
This will be Suu Kyi’s last legal option to appeal her 2009 conviction for violating the terms of her house arrest for briefly sheltering an American who swam uninvited to her home.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers have argued that her house arrest was unlawful since it was based on provisions of the 1974 constitution which was abolished after a ruling military junta seized power in 1988, said Nyan Win.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has already lost two appeals against the conviction and her 18-month house arrest expires on Nov. 13, a week after the country’s first election in two decades. There is wide speculation the junta will release the 65-year-old as an olive branch to the international community after its expected win at the polls.
Myanmar, earlier known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962. The elections of 1990 were swept by Suu Kyi’s party but the military refused to relinquish power.