John Yettaw, the man who dropped Suu Kyi in it
Alongside the pro-democracy leader in court today is a Mormon who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from Vietnam
As riot police ringed Rangoon's Insein prison today for the trial of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, more details emerged from the United States about the mysterious American who got her into trouble, John William Yettaw.
While Suu Kyi, 63, is charged with violating the terms of her detention by harbouring Yettaw - albeit, against her will - the 53-year-old from Falcon, Missouri, faces the same court, charged with trespass.
He is the man who decided on some strange impulse to swim across the Inya lake to the house where Suu Kyi has been held prisoner for the best part of 19 years and, despite her remonstrations, stay there for two days and nights. He then swam back across the lake before being arrested.
The trouble he has caused Suu Kyi is almost beyond belief, even to hardened observers of the Burmese scene. Just days away from her release from the latest six-year period of detention, the junta jumped on the chance to lock her up again. She was detained in Insein prison where she is due to learn her fate at today's trial - possibly another period of home imprisonment or, worse, a period in jail.
Yettaw suffered from a head wound and post-traumatic stress disorder during his military service in Vietnam. Already psycologically scarred, he was then hit by the death of his teenage son two years ago.
He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints - better known as the Mormons - and, according to his first wife, Yvonne Yettaw, was visiting Asia to work on a psychology paper about forgiveness. It was this subject that he possibly wanted to question Suu Kyi about: he was not there to try to convert her to his religion, said Yvonne.
His current wife, Betty Yettaw, told reporters that her husband was eccentric but peace-loving and "not political at all".
His stepson Paul told the Associated Press: "I cannot tell you what he was thinking... He knew he could be caught and arrested, though I am very sure it never occurred to him that Suu Kyi or her companions could also suffer from his choices."
Paul added: "As a family, we are very sorry for any additional problems that John's action may have caused Suu Kyi and her companions."
If it is any consolation to the Yettaw family, almost all observers believe that if Yettaw hadn't given them the perfect excuse to extend Suu Kyi's detention beyond next year's planned election, then the Burmese junta would have found another one. ·
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