Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be in court Monday as her first trial begins on charges brought by the military junta after it seized power earlier this year.
Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint, who have been in detention since the Feb. 1 coup and face multiple charges, are expected to testify in person at a special court in the capital, Naypyidaw, according to the head of their legal defense team, Khin Maung Zaw. She is being tried for allegedly violating Covid-19 restrictions during last year’s election, as well as incitement and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies.
On Tuesday, she’ll return to court to face two additional charges related to breaching the Natural Disaster Management Law and the Telecommunications Law, Khin Maung Zaw said by phone, adding that he expects verdicts on those charges by mid-August. He has described all the allegations against her as groundless.
The trials are the latest push by the military to discredit Suu Kyi after her party won more than 80% of available seats in November’s national election, prompting the military to declare it tainted by widespread fraud even though international observers said it was mostly free and fair. The result was in line with another landslide victory in 2015, when Suu Kyi formed the country’s first civilian-led government in more than five decades.
Since the coup, the military regime has struggled to contend with a shadow government set up by her allies, renewed civil conflict with armed ethnic rebels and international sanctions from the U.S. and its Western partners over a deadly crackdown on protesters that has killed more than 850 people. The military, also known as the Tatmadaw, moved the two civilian leaders in recent weeks from their residences in the capital to an unknown location.
Suu Kyi, 75 also faces other criminal charges. On June 10, the junta charged her and other officials with corruption in the most serious of the seven cases against her so far, accusing her of bribery and illegally leasing property. As a senior government official she faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted in that case.
Suu Kyi has long been the face of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, winning the Nobel peace prize while under house arrest for the better part of two decades prior to her release in 2010. Her international reputation had suffered in recent years due to her defense of Myanmar’s army from allegations of genocide against Rohingya Muslims at the International Court of Justice.- Bloomberg