Myanmar court convicts Suu Kyi on more corruption charges

BANGKOK — A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday on more corruption charges.

The trial was held behind closed doors, with no media or public access, and her lawyers were barred from disclosing information about the proceedings due to a gag order.

In the four corruption cases decided on Monday, Suu Kyi allegedly abused her position to rent public land below market price and built a home with donations intended for charitable purposes. She received three-year sentences for each of the four counts, but the sentences for three of them will be served simultaneously, giving her a total of six years in prison.

She denied all charges and her lawyers are expected to appeal.

She had already been sentenced to 11 years in prison on sedition, corruption and other charges in previous trials after the military overthrew her elected government and detained her in February 2021.

Analysts say the numerous charges against her and her allies are an attempt to legitimize the military’s seizure of power and remove her from politics before the military holds an election it has promised for next year.

Suu Kyi and her co-defendants have denied all charges and their lawyers are expected to appeal in the coming days, said the legal officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to release information and feared punishment by the authorities. authorities .

Other top members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party and her government have also been arrested and imprisoned, and authorities have suggested they could dissolve the party before the next election.

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The military seized power and detained Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021, the day her party is said to have started a second five-year term in office after winning a landslide in the November 2020 general election. acted because of massive vote fraud, but independent election monitors found no major irregularities.

The takeover of the military sparked peaceful nationwide street protests that cracked down security forces with deadly force, sparking armed resistance that some UN experts now characterize as civil war. The military government has been accused of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and killings, torture and military actions, including air strikes on civilians and the burning of entire villages.

Suu Kyi, 77, has been the face of opposition to Myanmar’s military rule for more than three decades. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 while under house arrest.

Her five years as civilian leader have been marked by repression and military dominance, even if it was Myanmar’s most democratic period since a coup d’état in 1962.

Suu Kyi has been charged under the anti-corruption law with a total of 11 charges, each count carrying a prison term of up to 15 years and a fine.

In Monday’s verdicts, the legal official said Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years in prison for building a home for herself in Naypyitaw, allegedly with money donated to a charitable foundation named after her mother, which she chaired.

She was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly abusing her position to rent real estate in Yangon, the country’s largest city, for the same foundation, the official said.

The other two cases decided on Monday concerned plots of land in Naypyitaw for which she allegedly abused her power to rent below market prices for the foundation. She was sentenced to three years for each of those cases.

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The three cases related to criminal offenses in Naypyitaw are to be dealt with simultaneously.

The former mayor of Naypyitaw, Myo Aung, was a co-defendant in both cases involving the granting of permits to lease the land. Ye Min Oo, the former deputy mayor, is a co-defendant in one case and Min Thu, a former member of the Naypyitaw Development Committee, in the other. Each received sentences of three years.

The government anti-corruption commission, which filed the case, had alleged that the rents agreed by the Naypyitaw Development Commission were lower than the rate set by the Ministry of Planning and Finance, so that the lease had deprived the state of revenue. should get.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell Fontelles, called for the immediate release of Suu Kyi.

“I condemn the wrongful sentence of Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional six years in detention, and call on the regime in #Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release her, as well as all political prisoners, and respect the will of the people.” he tweeted.

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