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Verdict in Trial of Burmese Democracy Leader Postponed



The court has postponed issuing a verdict in the trial of Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It was scheduled to be announced Friday, but her lawyer says the court instead declared an unspecified "legal problem" had to first be decided.

Security was tightened Friday around Insein prison in Rangoon, where the court was to issue the verdict.

Burma's state media had warned Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters not to demonstrate or predict the outcome of the trial.

However, the court unexpectedly postponed the verdict until August 11.

A lawyer for the 64-year-old Nobel Prize winner, Nyan Win, says the court delayed the verdict because there is a "legal problem" the judges say must first be decided. He says that problem may be the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi is being charged under the laws of an outdated constitution.

"They can't use the 1974 constitution because [after the] 1988 uprising the constitution is collapsed and it's come to an end," he said. "It's the main legal problem there."

The military government brutally crushed the 1988 student uprising, killing several thousand demonstrators and jailing thousands more.

Aung San Suu Kyi became the icon of Burma's democracy movement and leads the opposition National League for Democracy, which won Burma's last elections in 1990.

The military government ignored the election results and has kept Aung San Suu Kyi locked up for most of the past two decades.

She was due to be released in May but was instead charged with violating the terms of her house arrest for harboring an uninvited American man without official permission. The man, John Yettaw, swam to her home uninvited.

Human rights activists have widely condemned the trial as a sham rigged to keep Aung San Suu Kyi locked up through elections scheduled for next year. She is expected to be found guilty and sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The United Nations, the United States and other governments have urged the Burmese government to free her and all other political prisoners.

John Yettaw and Aung San Suu Kyi's two live-in assistants are facing similar jail terms.

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