27 December 2021

Myanmar court postpones verdicts in second case against Suu Kyi

27 December 2021

A court in military-ruled Myanmar has postponed its verdicts on two charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi until January 10.

She is accused of importing and possessing walkie-talkies without following official procedures, officials said.

The case in the court in the capital, Naypyitaw, is among many brought against the 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate since the army seized power on February 1, ousting her elected government and arresting top members of her National League for Democracy party.

The court gave no reason for delaying the verdicts.

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in last year’s general election, but the military said there was widespread electoral fraud, an assertion that independent poll watchers doubt.

She faces spending the rest of her life in jail if she is convicted of all charges against her (AP) (AP)

Her supporters and independent analysts say all the charges against her are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimise the military’s seizure of power while keeping her from returning to politics.

If found guilty of all the charges she faces, she could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.

Suu Kyi was convicted on December 6 on two other charges – incitement and breaching Covid-19 restrictions – and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

Hours after the sentence was issued, the head of the military-installed government, Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, reduced it by half. Suu Kyi is being held by the military at an unknown location and state television reported that she would serve her sentence there.

Suu Kyi has been attending court hearings in prison clothes – a white top and a brown longyi skirt provided by the authorities. The hearings are closed to the media and spectators and the prosecutors do not comment. Her lawyers, who had been a source of information on the proceedings, were served with gag orders in October.

A charge under the Export-Import Law of having improperly imported the walkies-talkies was the first filed against Suu Kyi and served as the initial justification for her continued detention.

A second charge of illegally possessing the radios was filed the following month.

The radios were seized from the gate of her residence and the barracks of her bodyguards during a search on February 1, the day she was arrested.

Pro-democracy protesters hold a flash mob rally to protest against Myanmar’s military-installed government, at Kyauktada township in Yangon (AP) (AP)

Suu Kyi’s lawyers argued that the radios were not in her personal possession and were legitimately used to help provide for her security, but the court declined to dismiss the charges.

The offence falls under the Natural Disaster Management Law and the maximum penalty is three years in prison and a fine.

She is also being tried in the same court on five counts of corruption. The maximum penalty for each count is 15 years in prison and a fine. A sixth corruption charge, in which Suu Kyi and ousted president Win Myint are accused of granting permits to rent and buy a helicopter, has not yet gone to trial.

In separate proceedings, she is accused of violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum term of 14 years.

Additional charges were also added by Myanmar’s election commission against Suu Kyi and 15 other politicians in November for alleged fraud in last year’s election.

The charges by the military-controlled Union Election Commission could result in Suu Kyi’s party being dissolved and unable to participate in a new election the military has promised will take place within two years of its takeover.

The military’s seizure of power was met by non-violent nationwide demonstrations, which security forces quashed with deadly force, killing nearly 1,400 civilians, according to a detailed list compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Peaceful protests have continued, but amid the severe crackdown, an armed resistance has also grown, to the point that UN experts have warned the country could be sliding into civil war.

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