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Burma's Trial of Democracy Leader in Final Arguments


The trial of Burma's democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is in final arguments. The internationally condemned trial resumed as rights group Amnesty International awarded the Nobel laureate its top recognition for a rights defender.

A court in Rangoon heard from lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi's two assistants, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, and the American man, John Yettaw, who sparked the trial.

Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers presented her final arguments on Friday and say a verdict is expected in two or three weeks.

Numerous governments and rights groups have condemned the trial and demanded her release.

Benjamin Zawacki is a Burma researcher for Amnesty International in Thailand. He says the trial has not been free or fair. But, he says even the fairest trial against her would be illegitimate.

"It is besides the point in many ways. Because, of course, as a prisoner of conscience, she should not have been detained in the first place," he said. "She certainly should not be on trial."

Amnesty announced Aung San Suu Kyi had received its highest honor - the "Ambassador of Conscience" award, which recognizes exceptional leadership in the fight to protect and promote human rights.

The rights group issued a statement saying since her arrest 20 years ago she has remained a "symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights, not only to the people of Burma but to people around the world."

Past recipients include former South African President Nelson Mandela, who spent more than 25 years in jail in the fight against apartheid.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won Burma's last elections in 1990 but the military government ignored the results. They have kept the Nobel Peace Prize winner in detention for 14 of the past 20 years.

Aung San Suu Kyi's latest term of house arrest was due to end in late May. But shortly before that, Yettaw swam across a lake to her house uninvited. Aung San Suu Kyi and her assistants allowed him to stay two nights without official permission.

Burmese authorities say it was a violation of her house arrest, and she could be given five years in jail.

Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers say state security was at fault for allowing Yettaw to get near the house.

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