The Nobel laureate is accused of breaking COVID-19 rules, accepting bribes of cash and gold, and possessing walkie-talkies
The trial of deposed Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi got under way yesterday, more than four months after a military coup, with junta witnesses testifying the Nobel laureate flouted COVID-19 restrictions and illegally imported walkie-talkies.
Near daily protests have rocked Myanmar since the generals’ Feb. 1 putsch.
A mass uprising has been met with a brutal military crackdown that has killed more than 850 civilians, a local monitoring group said.
The junta has brought an eclectic raft of charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, including claims she accepted illegal payments of gold and breached a colonial-era secrecy law.
The court yesterday heard a police force major testify that Aung San Suu Kyi broke COVID-19 restrictions during last year’s elections, which her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide, her lawyer Min Min Soe said.
Another police major testified on separate charges accusing her of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, she added.
Aung San Suu Kyi “paid keen attention” throughout the hearing, another member of her legal team, Khin Maung Zaw, said in a statement.
Journalists were barred from proceedings in the special court in the capital, Naypyidaw, but an Agence France-Presse reporter said there was a heavy police presence outside.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers — who have struggled to gain access to their client — have said they expect the trial to wrap up by July 26.
“I’m confident Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will overcome this trial,” Khin Maung Zaw said after the hearing. “And she seems quite determined to assert her rights, whatever the results.”
A separate trial is scheduled to start today over sedition charges she faces alongside ousted Burmese president Win Myint and another senior NLD member.
If convicted of all charges, Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, faces more than a decade in jail.
“It is a show trial motivated only by political reasons,” said Debbie Stothard, Coordinator of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma. “[Burmese Army Senior General] Min Aung Hlaing is determined to lock up Aung San Suu Kyi for the rest of her life. If he could, he would probably charge her under every law available.”
On Thursday, Aung San Suu Kyi was hit with additional corruption charges over claims she illegally accepted US$600,000 in cash and about 11kg of gold.
Khin Maung Zaw dismissed the new charges — which could see Aung San Suu Kyi hit with another lengthy prison term — as “absurd.”
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