Suu Kyi trial: concerns over American
John Yettaw’s seven-year sentence for his infamous swim across Inya lake prompts concerns for his health
Considering he did the Burmese junta such a big favour - giving them the perfect excuse to lock up Aung Sang Suu Kyi for another 18 months, and keep her out of circulation beyond next year's general election - John Yettaw, the American who swam across Inya lake and broke into her compound, received harsh treatment yesterday.
While Suu Kyi received less of a sentence than some had expected, the 54-year-old Yettaw got more than lawyers had bargained for: seven years with hard labour in Rangoon's notorious Insein prison.
The sentence was made up of three years for abetting the pro-democracy campaigner's 'violation' of her house arrest, three years for immigration offences and one year for swimming in an unauthorised area.
Seven years was seen as extraordinarily harsh given Yettaw's poor physical and mental health. He suffers from diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in the US military, and had spent several days in hospital before yesterday's verdicts were handed down.
"We are concerned about the harsh sentence imposed on him, especially in light of his medical condition," the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday, calling for his release.
Yvonne Yettaw, one of two former wives, asked: "How is he going to do hard labour if he is so ill? Maybe they'll realise he won't make it seven years and they'll send him home."
Most observers believe that is exactly what will happen: that after serving a few months, he will be released and deported. However, even a few months in Insein is a high price to pay for what was clearly bizarre behaviour from an emotionally disturbed man who believed he was on a mission from God to prevent Suu Kyi's death. ·
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