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Aung San Suu Kyi verdict delayed

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: New court date falls right after August 8, 1988, democracy uprising anniversary
  • Suu Kyi emerged as democracy leader during that time
  • Government's treatment of Suu Kyi has earned it widespread condemnation
  • Nobel Peace Prize laureate could face up to five years in prison if convicted
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YANGON, Myanmar (CNN) -- A verdict expected Friday in the closely watched subversion trial of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been delayed until August 11, said a diplomatic source attending the proceedings.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been held in confinement for 13 of the past 19 years.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been held in confinement for 13 of the past 19 years.

The reason for the delay was not immediately clear, but the new date falls immediately after an important anniversary.

Opposition activists mark the anniversary every year of the August 8, 1988, national uprising for democracy, also dubbed "8888." A subsequent military coup quashed the demonstrations, during which Suu Kyi emerged as the face of democracy in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi, now 64, and two of her housekeepers are being tried on charges stemming from a May 3 incident in which American John William Yettaw allegedly swam across a lake to her home and stayed for two days.

If convicted, Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, could face up to five years in prison.

The hearing on Friday lasted about 30 seconds, with the judges saying proceedings would be put off while they consider "other circumstances," the diplomatic source said. Video Watch details of what went on in the courtroom »

Suu Kyi walked into the court unrestricted and unaccompanied by guards, the source said. She appeared relaxed in court, even smiling. She thanked foreign diplomats -- from the European Union and Australia -- for their presence and asked them to relay gratitude to their respective governments for their support.

After the delay was announced, she joked to the diplomats: "Sorry you've been given more work," the source said.

All defendants were expected to be at the court with their lawyers for the verdicts -- first for Suu Kyi, then for the other three on trial.

A Washington, D.C.-based lawyer, who is one of the attorneys defending Suu Kyi, said Myanmar's government was calculating in announcing the delay.

"It is in some ways a smart move -- push off the verdict until the middle of August, when numerous government and U.N. officials around the world will be on vacation," lawyer Jared Genser said. "But it remains to be seen whether this ploy will work or if anticipation will be heightened in the run-up to the issuance of the verdict."

Suu Kyi's high-profile trial has earned Myanmar widespread international condemnation. On a trip to Thailand earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a plea for Suu Kyi's release. And U.S. President Barack Obama has called her detention "arbitrary" and "unjustified."

Suu Kyi was put on trial after Myanmar's ruling junta said Yettaw's presence in the closely guarded home violated the terms of Suu Kyi's house arrest. The government rarely allows her visitors, and foreigners are not allowed overnight stays in local households without government permission.

Suu Kyi said she doesn't know Yettaw, didn't know of his plans and denies any wrongdoing. She is charged with subversion.

Suu Kyi has asked her attorneys to find books for her, as she will have nothing to do but read if convicted, said Nyan Win, her attorney and spokesman for the National League for Democracy.

Over 100 books have been given to her in languages including French and Burmese, along with several dictionaries and novels, Win said. She has also requested different kinds of medicine, he said.

Two defense witnesses were allowed to testify for Suu Kyi during the trial. By comparison, the prosecution team was allowed to call more than a dozen witnesses.

If convicted, Suu Kyi, her housekeepers, and Yettaw have 60 days in which to appeal.

Yettaw, a 53-year-old former military serviceman from Falcon, Missouri, testified repeatedly that God had sent him to Myanmar -- also known as Burma -- to protect Suu Kyi because he dreamed a terrorist group would assassinate her.

Suu Kyi's two housekeepers, who are charged with cooperating to break the conditions of her house arrest, face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Yettaw is also charged with violating Suu Kyi's house arrest and faces the same penalty as the housekeepers.

But he is also charged with violating immigration laws and trespassing. The former carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison; the latter charge is considered minor but the sentence was unclear.

Yettaw could serve a maximum of five to eight years in prison depending on whether the judge orders him to serve his sentences concurrently or one after the other.

A lawyer selected by the U.S. Embassy is representing him.

Suu Kyi, the iconic face of democracy in Myanmar, was placed under house arrest in 1989.

The next year, the National League for Democracy won more than 80 percent of the legislative seats in the first free elections in the country in nearly 30 years.


But Myanmar's military junta disqualified Suu Kyi from serving because of her house arrest and annulled the election results.

Her supporters say Suu Kyi's latest arrest is meant to keep her confined so she cannot participate in the general elections that the junta has scheduled for next year.

CNN's Dan Rivers contributed to this report.

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