- Associated Press - Thursday, November 11, 2010

RANGOON, Burma (AP) — Burma’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi suffered her latest courtroom loss Thursday but close aides remained optimistic that she will soon be granted freedom from house arrest in the military-ruled country.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is due to complete her sentence on Saturday, nearly a week after the country held elections that excluded Mrs. Suu Kyi and were widely criticized as a sham. The junta has not confirmed that she will be set free but government officials have quietly said they are making “necessary security preparations” for this weekend.

Mrs. Suu Kyi already has stated that she may re-enter the political fray, saying through lawyers she would investigate allegations of fraud in the election once released, meaning she may run afoul of the government again soon.

The youngest of Mrs. Suu Kyi’s two sons, Kim Aris, also was granted a Burmese visa earlier this week, said her lawyer Nyan Win, in an indication that he will be allowed to see his mother for the first time in 10 years. The 33-year-old Mr. Aris lives in Britain and has repeatedly been denied visas for years.

Mrs. Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years but was never convicted of any crime until August 2009. She was sentenced to 18 months of additional house arrest for violating an earlier period of house arrest by briefly sheltering an uninvited American who swam to her home.

Mrs. Suu Kyi had already lost two previous appeals against the conviction and had filed a final appeal to the Special Appellate Bench in the remote capital of Naypyitaw.

The court posted its decision Thursday on a public notice board, saying only that the appeal was turned down and giving no explanation, Nyan Win said.

“The court rejected our appeal and upholds the previous court decisions,” he told the Associated Press. “This decision is absolutely wrong and shows the state of justice system in the country,” Nyan Win said.

The decision came just days after Burma’s first election in 20 years, which have been widely criticized as unfair and rampant with fraud.

Partial results announced Wednesday showed that the country’s pro-military party was headed toward an expected sweeping victory.

Top members of the ruling junta, including Prime Minister Thein Sein, were among those who won seats in parliament, according to results broadcast Wednesday night on state television. Thein Sein heads the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which served as a proxy for the ruling junta.

Mrs. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has established a committee to probe allegations of fraud in the polls, said Nyan Win, who is also a spokesman for the group.

Mrs. Suu Kyi will help investigate charges of election fraud if and when she is released from house arrest this week, he said.

The junta set rules for the election that effectively barred Mrs. Suu Kyi from participating. Her party later was officially disbanded as a political party because it refused to register for the polls it considered unfair, but the group remains enormously popular as a social movement.

Independent observers and Western leaders including President Obama have said Sunday’s election in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, was neither free nor fair.

Mrs. Suu Kyi’s intention to re-enter politics, especially in a manner that would embarrass the junta, poses the sort of challenge that the military has met in the past by locking her up again.

The NLD’s dilapidated headquarters in Rangoon was bustling Wednesday with party members tidying up Mrs. Suu Kyi’s old office.

Nyan Win expressed confidence she would be freed.

“She has to be freed as there is no law under which her detention can be extended,” he said. But he added Mrs. Suu Kyi would not accept her release if there were any conditions attached to her freedom. In the past, the military has refused to let her travel out of Rangoon, fearing her popularity could encourage dissent.


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