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Suu Kyi trial resumes in Myanmar

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Suu Kyi trial resumes in Myanmar

The trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader, has resumed after a break of more than a month, a government official has said.

The trial is taking place inside Yangon’s Insein prison where she is being held.

The Nobel peace laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by harbouring an American man who swam secretly to her lakeside home and stayed for two days.

Security around the jail was tight as the trial resumed on Friday with access roads blocked with barb-wire barricades manned by police.

Truck loads of riot police were also deployed around the prison facility.

About 100 supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi gathered, as they have during earlier court sessions, sitting and standing as close as they could to the prison gates.

Khin Moe Moe, a lawyer and a member of the NLD party, was to appear as a defence witness during Friday’s trial, held mostly behind closed doors since May 18.

Defence case

The defence has not contested the basic facts of the case but argues the relevant law has been misapplied by the authorities.They also assert that the American visitor, John Yettaw, was not invited and any intrusion was the responsibility of the security forces guarding the house.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

She has already been in detention for nearly 14 of the last 20 years, mostly confined to her Yangon residence.

Also being tried on the same charges as Aung San Suu Kyi are two women members of her party who have been her sole companions while under house arrest.

Yettaw, 53, of the US state of Missouri, is also on trial charged with trespassing.

He has pleaded not guilty and explained in court that had gone to warn Aung San Suu Kyi after he had a dream that she would be assassinated.

His family and friends have said he was working on a book and wished to interview her.

Criticism

The trial has drawn international condemnation while opposition supporters have said it is a trumped up charge by the ruling generals to keep Aung San Suu Kyi out of elections to be held next year.

A UN mission to Myanmar last Sunday ended in disappointment after the country’s military rulers refused to allow Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general, to meet the jailed opposition leader.

Ban said Than Shwe, Myanmar’s military chief, told him repeatedly that “he really wanted to agree to my request” but because she was on trial he did not want to be seen as interfering with the judicial process, or as being pressured by the outside world.

“I am deeply disappointed that they have missed a very important opportunity,” ban was quoted as saying.

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Deadly floods ravage Brazil’s Minas Gerais

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A total of 66 towns cities in Minas Gerais state have declared a state of emergency.In the town of Ouro Preto two taxi drivers died when a bus station was destroyed by a landslide.
Flood waters are also threatening hillside communities in Rio de Janeiro state that were devastated a year ago.

Flooding is common in southeastern Brazil during the rainy season. Nationwide, more than 2m people have been affected by this year’s rains, Brazil’s civil defence force says.

About 10,300 people have been evacuated, and 3,000 homes have been destroyed.

Many roads have been blocked, making it difficult to get help and supplies to affected areas.

Early warning

Last year floods killed more than 800 people, in what officials said was the worst natural disaster ever to befall Brazil.
Most of the deaths were in towns in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro such as Nova Friburgo, which are again suffering from intense rains.

Since then, the Brazil government has set up an early warning system to monitor weather rainfall and ensure people evacuate before floods strike.

There has also been heavy investment in flood protection.

Minas Gerais state governor Antonio Anastasia said disaster prevention measures had proved effective.

“Given the quantity of rain, we can observe that the system of alerts and evacuation are working well,” he said.

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