Myanmar court again found Suu Kyi guilty of corruption

BANGKOK — A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi on corruption charges on Friday, sentenced her to seven years in prison in the final criminal case against Ms., a legal official said.

The court’s ruling sent her to prison for a total of 33 years after a string of politically charged prosecutions since the military overthrew her elected government in February 2021.

The case that closed on Friday involved five counts under anti-corruption laws and follows previous convictions on seven other corruption counts, each of which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine.

Suu Kyi, 77, has also been convicted of a number of other charges, including illegally importing and possessing radios, violating coronavirus restrictions, and violating the country’s official secrecy law , rebellion and election fraud.

Her previous convictions resulted in her serving a total of 26 years in prison.

Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the many charges against her and her allies are an attempt to legitimize the military’s grip on power while removing her from politics first. elections promised by the military in 2023.

Of the five corruption charges decided on Friday, Ms. Suu Kyi was accused of abusing her position and causing a loss to the state budget by failing to comply with financial regulations by allowing Win Myat Aye, a Cabinet member in her former government, rented, purchased and maintained a helicopter.

Suu Kyi is the de facto head of government, serving as a state adviser. Win Myint, who served as president in her government, is a co-defendant in a similar case.

Friday’s ruling, delivered on the outskirts of the capital Naypyitaw, was revealed by an unnamed law official for fear of retribution by the authorities. The trial has been closed to the media, diplomats and spectators, and her lawyers have been barred from speaking about it under a gag order.

The legal official said Suu Kyi received three-year sentences for each of the four counts, to be executed simultaneously, and four years for the crime related to the purchase of a helicopter, for a total of seven years. . Win Myint received similar convictions.

Win Myat Aye, the center of the case, escaped arrest and is now the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in the Government of National Unity, established by the military’s opponents as a political party. parallel rights by elected legislators, who were barred from holding their office when elections took place. The military took power last year. The military has declared the NUG a “terrorist organization” outlawed.

The defendants denied all charges and her attorney is expected to appeal in the coming days. The official also said that both Suu Kyi and Win Myint appeared healthy.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in an emailed statement that the cases against Suu Kyi were staged and court rulings had been decided by the military. won first.

“Legal process and a free and fair trial could never have been possible in the light of the political persecution against her,” he added.

The end of the cases against Ms. Suu Kyi, at least for now, raises the possibility that she will be allowed to receive visitors from outside, something she has been denied since her detention.

Myanmar’s military rulers, who have faced political and diplomatic sanctions for human rights abuses and repression of democracy, have repeatedly refused all requests to meet with her, including from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is seeking to help mediate to end the crisis. in Myanmar which some UN experts have described as a civil war as the armed forces oppose military rule.

A statement in August from the military government said, “depending on the circumstances after completing the judicial process, we will consider how to proceed.”

Due to her age, the 33 years in prison that Suu Kyi now faces “is the equivalent of a life sentence in effect for her,” Robertson said, adding that the sentences are intended to prevent her from participating. politics and sabotage her party’s resounding 2020 election victory.

Now Phone Latt, a spokesman for the opposition group Government of National Unity, accused Myanmar’s judiciary of being “totally unjust”.

He said in an online message that the ruling military junta could free Suu Kyi and other prisoners or make similar gestures if it was necessary for their benefit, but the forces revolutionary forces would move forward without losing sight of their goal of a democratic federal coalition without military involvement.

Suu Kyi is being held in a newly built separate building in the prison in Naypyitaw, close to the courthouse where her trial took place, with three female police officers tasked with assisting her.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s martyred independence hero, General Aung San, spent nearly 15 years as a political prisoner under house arrest from 1989 to 2010.

Her hardline stance against military rule in Myanmar made her an icon of the nonviolent struggle for democracy, and won her the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Her National League for Democracy party initially came to power after easily winning the 2015 general election, ushering in a real civilian government for the first time since a military coup in 2015. 1962.

But after coming to power, Suu Kyi was criticized for showing respect to the military while ignoring the atrocities it was accused of committing in its persecution of the Rohingya minority. Islam 2017.

Her National League for Democracy again won a landslide victory in the 2020 election, but less than three months later, elected lawmakers were denied their seats in Congress and Leading members of her government and party were detained.

The military said it acted because there was massive fraud in the 2020 election, but independent election observers did not find any major anomalies.

The military takeover in 2021 sparked widespread peaceful protests that security forces tried to suppress with deadly force and quickly erupted into armed resistance.

Myanmar security forces have killed at least 2,685 civilians and arrested 16,651 people, according to a detailed list compiled by the Association for the Support of Political Prisoners, an NGO that tracks the killings and arrest.


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