Myanmar Nobel laureate gets house arrest sentence reduced to year

Myanmar’s Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday received a 15-month sentence reduced to a year on appeal, ending an embarrassing incident in which she was stripped of her freedom and put in jail over a minor traffic violation.

The short sentence is technically a house arrest, and it is due to end in November. A former political prisoner herself, the 65-year-old is widely regarded as a champion of democracy who holds no positions in Myanmar’s military-dominated government. A total sentence could have been greater.

The Nobel laureate could have been imprisoned for at least two years for violating the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man named John Yettaw to stay at her home on May 4 last year, when he swam across the lake to her house to ask her for spiritual advice.

Mr. Yettaw, an American citizen of 62, was in Myanmar illegally, and he was found guilty. He was charged under a law for those who “violate immigration laws,” which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

“I am pleased that the Yangon Chamber of Commerce and Industry granted me permission to appeal and shorten the sentence,” Aung San Suu Kyi said in a statement. “Once I have completed this appeal, I will take it forward to the Yangon Central Court.”

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Myanmar National League for Democracy won a 2010 election, but the military-dominated government of Thein Sein has not followed through on many of the political and economic reforms that were advocated by the former political prisoner. Thein Sein has been criticized for fostering a repressive political climate.

Aung San Suu Kyi is due to address a closed-door United Nations Security Council meeting in Geneva on Monday to be held at the request of China, Myanmar’s main ally.

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