Sentence removes Suu Kyi from poll scene

Author: Associated Press

The head of the military-ruled country ordered her to serve out an 18-month
sentence under house arrest.

The American, John Yettaw, 53, was sentenced to seven years in prison,
including four with hard labour.

Ms Suu Kyi has already been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, mostly
under house arrest, and the extension will remove her from the political
scene while the country holds junta-organised elections next year.

The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate had faced up to five years in
prison for allowing Mr Yettaw to stay for two nights after he swam across a
lake to reach her.

The court initially sentenced her to a three-year prison term. But after a
five-minute recess, the country’s home minister entered the courtroom and
read aloud a special order from junta chief Senior General Than Shwe.

The order said he was cutting the sentence in half to 18 months and that it
could be served under house arrest.

The order, signed yesterday, also reduced the sentences of Ms Suu Kyi’s two
female house companions to 18 months.

Gen Than Shwe said he reduced the sentence to “maintain peace and tranquility”
and because Ms Suu Kyi was the daughter of Aung San, a revered hero who won
Burma’s independence from Britain.

Ms Suu Kyi’s trial has sparked international outrage and calls for her release
and that of more than 2,000 other political prisoners in Burma.

Mr Yettaw, of Falcon, Missouri, was returned to Insein prison, the site of the
trial, last night after being admitted to hospital with epileptic seizures.

The court sentenced him to three years in prison for breaching Ms Suu Kyi’s
house arrest. He was also sentenced to three years in prison with hard
labour for an immigration violation and to another one-year term with hard
labour for swimming in a restricted zone.

It was not immediately clear if the prison terms would be served concurrently.

Mr Yettaw, a devout Christian, earlier told his lawyer that he swam to Ms Suu
Kyi’s residence to warn her of an assassination attempt that he had seen in
a vision.

He was taken to hospital last Monday after suffering fits. He reportedly
suffers from epilepsy, diabetes and other health problems, including
post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in the US military.

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