Myanmar court sentences Suu Kyi to 5 years in prison for corruption

Myanmar court sentences Suu Kyi to 5 years in prison for corruption

BANGKOK ( Associated Press) – A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted former country leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption and sentenced her to five years in prison on Wednesday in the first of several corruption cases against her.

Suu Kyi, who was ousted from the military takeover last year, has denied allegations that he was given gold and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes by a top political aide.

His supporters and independent legal experts see his prosecution as an unjust move to legalize the seizure of the army to discredit Suu Kyi and prevent the 76-year-old elected leader from returning to an active role in politics.

The daughter of Myanmar’s founding father, Aung San, Suu Kyi became a public figure in 1988 during a failed rebellion against a previous military government, when she helped establish the National League for Democracy party. He spent 15 of the next 21 years under house arrest for leading a nonviolent struggle for democracy, which earned him the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. When the Sena allowed elections in 2015, her party won a landslide victory and she became the de facto head of state. His party won a greater majority in the 2020 elections.

He has already been sentenced to six years in prison in other cases and is facing 10 more corruption charges. The maximum punishment under the Prevention of Corruption Act is 15 years in prison and fine. In other cases, conviction could result in a total sentence of not more than 100 years.

“These allegations would not be credible in the eyes of the standing courts of the junta (and supporters of the military),” said Mo Thujar, a fellow at the Yusuf Ishaq Institute, a Southeast Asian studies center in Singapore. “Even if there is a legitimate concern or complaint about corruption by a member of an elected government, a coup and enforced military rule is certainly not the way to escalate such concerns.”

News of Wednesday’s decision came from a legal officer, who asked not to be identified as he is not authorized to release such information. Suu Kyi’s trial in the capital, Naipitaw, was closed to the media, diplomats and spectators, and her lawyers were barred from speaking to the press.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party won a landslide victory in the 2020 general election, but when the military seized power on February 1, 2021, Suu Kyi and several senior aides in her party and government were arrested, So the MPs were not allowed to take their seats. , The military claimed it took action because there had been widespread electoral fraud, but independent election observers found no major irregularities.

According to the Association for Aid for Political Prisoners, a watchdog group, the takeover was met with large non-violent protests across the country, which were ended with deadly force by security forces, which has so far killed nearly 1,800 civilians.

As repression increased, armed resistance against the military government increased, and some UN experts now describe the country as a state of civil war.

Suu Kyi has not been seen or allowed to speak in public since her detention and being held at an undisclosed location. However, at last week’s final hearing in the case, she appeared to be in good health and asked her supporters to “stand united”, said a legal official familiar with the proceedings, who asked not to be named as she was unable to release the information. is not authorized.

In earlier cases, Suu Kyi was sentenced to six years in prison for illegally importing and possessing a walkie-talkie, violating coronavirus restrictions and sedition.

In the case decided on Wednesday, he was charged with receiving $600,000 and seven gold bars in 2017-18 from Phyo Min Thein, the former chief minister of the country’s largest city, Yangon, and a senior member of his political party. Her lawyers said before the gag order was handed down late last year that she dismissed all of his testimony against him as “absurd.”

The nine other cases currently being heard under the Prevention of Corruption Act include several cases related to the buying and hiring of helicopters by one of his former cabinet ministers. Violation of the law can result in a maximum jail term of 15 years and a fine for each offense.

Suu Kyi was also accused of misusing her position to divert money given as charitable donations to build a residence and to obtain rental property at below-market prices for a foundation in her mother’s name. Is. The State Anti-Corruption Commission has declared that many of its alleged actions deprived the state of revenue it would have earned otherwise.

Another corruption charge alleging that he accepted a bribe has yet to be heard.

Suu Kyi is also being tried for violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, and on charges of electoral fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of three years.

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s days as a free woman are effectively over. Myanmar’s junta and the country’s kangaroo courts have sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to life in prison,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “Destroying popular democracy in Myanmar also means getting rid of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the people are leaving no stone unturned.”