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Aung San Suu Kyi Appeals Conviction

A Burmese court has heard an appeal from lawyers for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi against her recent criminal conviction.

Defense attorney Nyan Win told reporters before Friday's hearing at Rangoon's Division Court he was confident the appeal was based on sound legal arguments.

A ruling is expected October 2.

Authorities refused Aung San Suu Kyi's request to attend the appeals hearing. State-run media defended the decision, saying a defendant has no right to appear at a hearing if serving a prison sentence.

The Nobel Peace laureate was convicted last month of violating the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man to stay at her lakeside Rangoon home for two days after he swam there uninvited.

She was initially sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor, but it was commuted to 18 months house detention.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been in some form of detention for 14 of the past 20 years.

Her lawyers say her conviction is invalid, because it is based on 1974 state constitution that is no longer in effect.

The international community accused the regime of using the trial as an excuse to keep Aung San Suu Kyi out of next year's elections.

The court is expected to deliver its judgment at a later date.

Meanwhile, two journalists who helped victims of last year's deadly Cyclone Nargis were released from prison Friday. Eint Khaing Oo and Kyaw Kyaw Thant were jailed for allegedly inciting hatred of the government, after they took of group of survivors to the United Nations' Burmese headquarters in Rangoon.

The two are among the 7,114 prisoners granted amnesty by the regime Thursday, either on humanitarian grounds or for good behavior.

Human rights groups say the military government is holding at least 2,200 political prisoners.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.