Lawyers for Rohingya criticise Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's defence of armed forces
Lawyers seeking to halt what they allege is ongoing genocide in Burma have criticised leader Aung San Suu Kyi's defence of her country's armed forces.
They said the Nobel Peace Prize winner chose to ignore "unspeakable" crimes targeting Muslim civilians.
The United Nation's top court is conducting emergency legal proceedings to determine if military personnel committed genocide against Burma's Rohingya minority in 2017.
The African nation of Gambia, acting on behalf of a large group of Muslim countries, requested the International Court of Justice hearings and alleges that human rights violations against the Rohingya continue.
With maps, satellite imagery and graphic photos, Burma's accusers have detailed what they insist is a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide - including the killing of civilians, raping of women and torching of houses - that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Gambia wants the UN court to take "all measures within its power to prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide".
The UN court proceedings in The Hague, in the Netherlands, produced the astonishing spectacle on Wednesday of Ms Suu Kyi, who was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for championing democracy and rights under Burma's then-ruling junta, defending the army that kept her under house arrest for some 15 years.
"We heard nothing about sexual violence from Myanmar (Burma) yesterday, not a single word about it," lawyer Paul Reicher told the world court as Ms Suu Kyi watched on impassively.
"Because it is undeniable and unspeakable, they chose to ignore it completely. I can't really blame them. I would hate having to be the one to defend it."
Ms Suu Kyi testified on Wednesday that the exodus of Rohingya was a tragic consequence of hostilities initiated by insurgents.
The allegations of genocide and other crimes by the army stemmed from "an internal armed conflict started by co-ordinated and comprehensive armed attacks ... to which Myanmar's (Burma's) defence services responded", she said.
Ms Suu Kyi also insisted that Gambia's legal representatives had painted "an incomplete and misleading factual picture" of what happened in Burma's northern Rakhine state in August 2017.
Mr Reicher argued otherwise, saying: "There is no reasonable conclusion to draw other than the inference of genocidal intent from the state's pattern of conduct."
Referring to a UN fact-finding mission's report on military "clearance operations", Mr Reicher said: "Everyone was a target and no-one was spared. Mothers, infants, pregnant women, the old and infirm. They all fell victim to this ruthless campaign."
He also refuted Burma's claims that no mass graves were found.
"To be sure, Myanmar (Burma) has not made it easier to find them" by denying access to suspect sites, Mr Reicher said.
"Nevertheless, The Associated Press located at least five mass graves of Rohingyas."
Ms Suu Kyi was expected to take the stand later for final remarks before the hearing concludes.
The court is likely to issue a decision on Gambia's request for provisional measures relatively quickly, but the main case will probably take years to resolve.