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Defense Witness Testifies at Burma's Trial of Aung San Suu Kyi 


The sole defense witness in Burma's widely criticized trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has argued in court that the defendant did not violate the terms of her house arrest.

Legal expert Kyi Win told reporters outside the closed court Thursday that there is no legal basis for charging Aung San Suu Kyi over an incident in which an uninvited American secretly swam to her home.

Kyi Win's testimony, echoing that of Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this week, argued that it was the job of government guards outside her home to keep intruders out.

The court earlier barred three other witnesses who were prepared to testify.

Burma's ruling military government lashed out Thursday at foreign critics of the trial. Burma's deputy foreign minister, Maung Myint, said during a meeting in Cambodia that the trial is an internal legal issue.

He said it is not political nor a human rights issue, so the government does not accept pressure from abroad.

However, European Union and Asian foreign ministers meeting in Phnom Penh issued a communiqué calling on Burma to release all political prisoners and lift restrictions on political parties.

The international community has loudly criticized the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, saying the military-led government is using the proceedings to extend her house arrest and bar her from elections next year.

Outside the court Thursday, witnesses say a man in his 50s was beaten by pro-government thugs and taken away after holding up a poster that said, "Saving Suu is Saving Burma." Sources in Burma said hundreds of supporters gathered Thursday near Insein prison where the trial is being held.

Closing arguments in the case will be heard on Monday following a recess on Friday. The trial could send the 63-year-old Nobel Peace laureate to prison for five years.

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