Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to six more years in prison on Monday in a judgment that could further anger supporters of the 77-year-old Nobel peace prize laureate.
A special court inside a prison compound in the capital Naypyidaw found her guilty of four corruption charges related to a charity named after her late mother, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the proceedings aren’t public. It’s the fourth round of criminal verdicts against Suu Kyi since the military seized power in a 2021 coup and brings her total jail term to 17 years, extinguishing any chance of her staging a political comeback while the junta remain in power.
Mandalay Regional High Court Judge Myint Sa ruled that Suu Kyi caused the state to lose over 24.2 billion Kyat ($13 Million) by leasing Naypyidaw for the headquarters of Daw Khin Kyi Foundation. The charity, which supports public health, education and the environment, was able to rent land at a much lower rate than what the Internal Revenue Department had set. According to sources familiar with this matter and the media,
Public outrage over earlier court sentences led to an increase in armed resistance by the shadow National Unity Government. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has reported that Junta forces have murdered nearly 2200 civilians, and taken more than 15,000 from the country since the coup. This month, it said that human rights violations are being committed by the prisoners.
Deposed leader had been accused by the junta of misused public donations to the foundation for her residence in Naypyidaw, and receiving bribes in the amount $550,0000 from an individual to donate to the charity in 2020 and 2019. Suu Kyi denied all allegations and pleaded “not guilty.”
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According to the source, three more senior officials including Myo Aung (deposed Naypyidaw) and Ye Min Oo were each sentenced for the same offenses. Major General Zaw Min Tun, lead spokesman of the ruling State Administration Council, didn’t immediately answer calls seeking comment on the ruling.
Suu Kyi was “very strong and stable” when she heard the verdict and told the court she’ll appeal the decision, the people said. On Thursday, she will testify before the court for an Official Secrets Act charge that she is fighting with Sean Turnell, her Australian advisor.
Nine more charges are pending against the former leader, which include violating the colonial era Official Secrets Act as well as abuse of power in order to secure her party’s victory at the 2020 election. If she’s found guilty, the remaining charges could add a maximum of 122 years more to her sentence if served consecutively.
Six charges against Suu Kyi, which included illegally importing or possessing unlicensed walkie talkies, violating Covid rules, and inciting dissension against the military, were also brought up earlier. She has called the allegations “absurd,” while her supporters say the charges are politically motivated.
The nation’s democracy icon was moved from her residence to an unknown location before her first trial began in camera in a state-owned compound in June 2021. One year later she was moved to Naypyidaw Prison’s military-built isolation unit. Journalists are not allowed to witness the court proceedings and Suu Kyi’s lawyers are banned from speaking to the media.
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Since the coup, U.S. Allies and other allies have put sanctions on Myanmar’s military generals. The junta killed four protesters and used capital punishment for the first time in nearly three decades.
Last week, Asean foreign ministers said in a joint statement they were “deeply disappointed” by the limited progress in and lack of commitment of Myanmar authorities to the timely and complete implementation of a five-point consensus agreed earlier by Min Aung Hlaing, the military chief who seized power in the 2021 coup.
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