YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will appeal a court ruling in favor of her estranged American brother’s claim to half-ownership of the two-story lakeside villa she has lived in for almost a quarter century, her lawyer said Monday.
The property, perched on a prime spot on Yangon’s Inya Lake, has been at the center of a bitter legal dispute between the two siblings since 2000.
A district court in the city issued its verdict Friday, confirming that Aung San Oo had inheritance rights to the property, Suu Kyi’s lawyer Nyan Win said.
It was not clear, however, whether the verdict would have any impact on the estate’s fate or whether Aung San Oo would be able to benefit from it. Foreigners are legally forbidden from owning or selling property in the Southeast Asian nation, and Suu Kyi’s brother is a U.S. citizen currently residing in California.
The 0.8-hectare (2-acre) strip of land was given by the government to Suu Kyi’s mother Khin Kyi after her husband, independence hero Gen. Aung San, was assassinated in 1947. Khin Kyi died in 1988.
The roots of the dispute between Suu Kyi and her brother are the subject of widespread speculation, though some say Aung San Oo has disagreed with Suu Kyi’s political views and many believe he may have been influenced by the brutal former military junta, which ceded power last year.
Suu Kyi spent 15 of the last two decades confined to the disputed Yangon property, but Aung San Oo never visited her there during those years despite making almost annual trips home.
The family’s quarrel became public in 2000 when Aung San Oo sued for partial ownership of the estate. A Yangon court threw out the case in 2001 citing procedural errors. But Suu Kyi’s brother filed a new suit again claiming joint-ownership.
Civil cases can take years to work their way through Myanmar’s court system.