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Myanmar high court sets date to hear Suu Kyi appeal

Myanmar's Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it will hear the appeal filed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] asking for her release from house arrest on October 29. Suu Kyi's lawyers will present their arguments [Reuters report] before the Special Appellate Bench, a multi-judge panel, in Myanmar's capital Naypyitaw. Lawyers for Suu Kyi filed the appeal [JURIST report] in May in order to challenge the 18-month extension of her house arrest. The sentence extension [JURIST report] resulted from Suu Kyi's conviction for violating the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man to stay at her home. Suu Kyi's release is scheduled for November 13, six days after the country's first national election in two decades. This is Suu Kyi's last chance for appeal [AP report], and her lawyers are unsure whether the court's judgment will be handed down before she is released.

The timeliness of the court's decision will influence Suu Kyi's ability to run for office in the November elections. Under Myanmar's current election laws [JURIST report] a provision prohibiting political prisoners from seeking public office will prevent Suu Kyi from participating in the elections if she remains under house arrest. In May, Suu Kyi filed suit [JURIST report] with the country's high court in order to annul this portion of the controversial law. The suit also seeks to stop the dissolution of her opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website] and requests the establishment of a parliament of lawmakers who won in the 1990 elections. The arrest of Suu Kyi, a democracy advocate and Nobel Laureate, has proven controversial and has been highly criticized [JURIST report] by the international community. She has spent 14 of the past 20 years in prison or under house arrest for alleged violations of an anti-subversion law [text, PDF].

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