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Trial of Burma's Democracy Leader Concludes; Verdict Expected Friday

The trial of Burma's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has concluded, and the verdict is to be announced Friday. Despite an international outcry over the trial, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is expected to be found guilty and sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday made their final statements in her defense.

The icon of Burma's democracy movement is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest. The military government has kept her locked up in her home for 14 of the past 20 years.

Aung San Suu Kyi allowed an uninvited American man who swam to the house to stay two nights without official permission.

Burmese authorities say for that reason she should be put in prison for up to five years, while her lawyers say she was not responsible for the break-in.

One of Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers, Nyan Win, says the court rejected their request today for a witness from the Foreign Ministry. Nyan Win says the defense attorneys pointed out unlawful and illegitimate arguments made by prosecutors, and says they are satisfied with the case they presented.

He says today they responded to final arguments made by prosecutors. They argued against Aung San Suu Kyi being charged under laws of the 1974 constitution because it was abolished in 1988. He says a verdict in the trial is set for Friday morning.

Two of Aung San Suu Kyi's assistants and the American man, John Yettaw, are on trial facing similar charges.

Yettaw says he broke into the opposition leader's house to warn her of a vision he had that she would be assassinated.

Rights groups and Western politicians say Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest is illegitimate and call the trial an excuse to keep her locked up through next year's elections.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won Burma's last elections in 1990 but the military never allowed them to take power.

Burma's official newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, on Tuesday rejected allegations that the trial is an attempt to imprison Aung San Suu Kyi and suggested Yettaw planned to help her escape.

Her supporters, the United Nations, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations demand her immediate release.

But Burma's military government has so far rejected international pressure, saying the trial is an internal affair.