June 16, 2009 / 9:45 AM / 10 years ago

Suu Kyi trial flouts justice, UN investigators say

* Myanmar govt urged to ensure open and fair trial

* UN panel already ruled her house arrest arbitrary

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) - U.N. investigators said on Tuesday the trial of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi flouted international standards and urged the country’s military rulers to ensure it was open and fair.

In a strongly worded joint statement, the five human rights investigators noted a U.N. panel issued an advisory ruling a year ago that the Nobel laureate’s continued house arrest was arbitrary.

The trial of Suu Kyi and of American John Yettaw, whose uninvited visit to her home last month was deemed a breach of her house arrest, is set to resume on June 26.

"The five experts called upon the authorities of Myanmar to allow the justice system to function in an independent and impartial manner, so as to guarantee an open and fair trial for the defendants, and to grant unfettered media access," the joint statement said.

Suu Kyi says the trial is politically motivated to keep her in detention during next year’s multi-party elections.

"So far, the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi and her aides has been marred by flagrant violations of substantive and procedural rights," said Leandro Despouy, the U.N. special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

"Transparency in the administration of justice is a pre-requisite of any state governed by the rule of law," added Despouy, an Argentine lawyer.

All witnesses with relevant evidence must be allowed to testify, he said. Only one witness called by the defence had been permitted to give evidence so far, although a second has been granted permission, compared with 14 called for the prosecution.

The trial had mostly been conducted behind closed doors and the media were prevented from speaking to the defence lawyers, according to the statement issued in Geneva.

"National and international media should be granted full access to the trial," said Frank La Rue, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.

The U.N. working group on arbitrary detention declared arbitrary her house arrest after May 2008. Chairwoman Manuela Carmena Castrilo said on Tuesday this meant "Aung San Suu Kyi needs to be released immediately and unconditionally".

Suu Kyi faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of violating her house arrest after Yettaw swam across Inya lake and stayed for two nights at her Yangon home. (Editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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