Burma court hears Suu Kyi appeal

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A poster of Burma's detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Image caption,
Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the last two decades in some form of detention

The Supreme Court in Burma has heard a final appeal from lawyers for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi against her house arrest.

Her current sentence is due to end on 13 November, days after the country's first election in 20 years.

It stems from an incident last year when an American man swam uninvited to her lakeside home.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last election in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.

She has spent most of the time since then under some form of detention.

Lawyers for the Nobel laureate says that although they believe she will soon be released, they want to prove her innocence.

The appeal was heard by the Special Appellate Bench in the remote capital, Nay Pyi Taw. A decision is expected within two weeks. Two previous appeals have been rejected.

'Not too late'

The move comes nine days before national elections which Burma's leaders say will return the country to civilian rule but which critics say are a sham aimed at perpetuating military rule in civilian guise.

Speaking at a regional summit in Hanoi, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it was not too late for a "credible, democratic transition" in Burma.

He called on the ruling generals to release all political prisoners.

"It is not too late, even now. By releasing all political prisoners, the Myanmar (Burma) authorities can help open the way for national reconciliation," he said.

Ms Suu Kyi's party, the NLD, is boycotting the polls because of election laws which it says are unfair.

Under the laws, Ms Suu Kyi and many other leading democrats are banned from participating because of convictions linked to their activism.

Opposition parties and individuals that are taking part have complained of harassment while campaigning, and say they cannot compete with the resources - media, funding, facilities - that are being made available to government-linked parties.

International observers and foreign media will not be allowed into the country for the polls.

There is speculation that Ms Suu Kyi may be freed on her released date of 13 November if the military achieves its expected result in the elections.

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