After hearing that Ms Suu Kyi had been sentenced to a further 18 months’ house arrest, the European Union announced it would intensify its sanctions against the country’s military regime.

France and Great Britain, who are convinced the junta’s decision is intended to prevent Ms Suu Kyi from participating in Myanmar’s elections in May 2010, have called for a worldwide economic and weapons embargo. They hope countries such as India, China and Thailand will support the call.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have called for her immediate release. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen, said the Burmese government should have been the one in the dock, since it was responsible for guarding Ms Suu Kyi in the first place.

The 64-year-old opposition leader was found guilty of breaching the terms of her previous house arrest after a man from the United States swam to her lakeside residence, uninvited, in May. Although the Nobel laureate was initially sentenced to three years imprisonment and hard labour, the head of the junta later signed an order commuting the sentence. The American man has been sentenced to seven years in prison and hard labour.